Police patrol: Collinsville's most watched speed zones
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CHRIS COATES / JOURNAL Collinsville Police Office Brad Akers uses a laser gun to check the speed of passing cars on Belt Line Road near Keebler Road on Wednesday. Police are increasing speed patrols as warmer months approach. By Chris Coates
Monday, April 27, 2009 1:12 PM CDT

Collinsville Police Officer Brad Akers glanced at his radar display and noted the flashing number showing how fast a passing SUV was driving.

"Forty-seven mph in a 40," he said, before pulling his cruiser onto Belt Line Road near Keebler Road. "We're going to pull over this yellow Liberty."

A few seconds later, Akers approached the SUV and started a spiel no motorist ever wants the hear: "The reason I pulled you over was ..."

Akers and other police said they expect to utter that sentence much more often as the department ramps up traffic and speed enforcement along the city's busiest corridors in coming weeks.

The additional focus is part of a crackdown on speeders and other dangerous drivers during warmer months, when more are on the roads, said Chief Scott Williams.

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Slated for the most attention are key areas where traffic data shows accidents are common - and where motorists should pay the most attention, Williams said.

He said officers are ready to make an impact.

"If you don't want a ticket, slow down and stop at stop signs," he said.

Williams and other police staff showed the Journals for more than two hours last week where they are focusing and how they check speeds.

The targeted areas are scattered across the city and include some of the busiest stretches and corners.

Akers, who issued three warnings to motorists during the ride-along on Wednesday, said police patrol the sections daily and use a mix of high-tech devices that sense speeds from hundreds of feet away.

The goal isn't to issue tickets, he said, but to make drivers aware that police are watching and checking.

"There is purpose behind it, and our purpose is to save lives and property, which is what the public wants us to do," he said, adding later, "Sometimes just our presence is enough to get people to slow down."

Belt Line Road between Keebler and Johnson Hill roads

Specifics: An important east-west link to the city's retail and core residential areas, Belt Line is one of the most congested streets in the city, with numerous driveways and red lights.

Especially tricky are the series of hills and curves east of Johnson Hill that limit driver visibility and sometimes cause drivers to cross the center line. Police have increased patrols following a series of accidents on the stretch, including a double fatality in November.

Common violations: Tailgating and speeding

Where to watch: Coming eastbound near Keebler. A sloping hill near Bridle Ridge Road makes it easy for drivers to surpass the 45 mph speed limit and try to beat the Keebler red light. "Because they have such a head start at this intersection," said Akers, who positioned his cruiser in the Bucky's Express parking lot to radar passing cars on Wednesday.

He said officers are checking speeds at the corner several times each day.

Bluff Road between Beverly Lane and Belt Line

Specifics: Long a busy thoroughfare for motorists exiting Interstate 55/70, Bluff has become even more hectic since the 2007 opening of the retail complex Collinsville Crossing. The added traffic and distractions have made minor accidents a weekly occurrence.

"That's a major intersection now," said Assistant Chief Maj. Tom Coppotelli. "You go by any time during the day, and there's people backed up there."

Common violations: Making lane changes without signaling, tailgating

Where to watch: Between Belt Line and Ramada Boulevard. Police often drive the section and use in-car radar, which can check speeds both in front and behind of cruisers, even when moving. They also park and use a laser gun to spot speeders, although Akers said officers usually don't try to conceal themselves.

"I'm not hiding and I'm not being sneaky," he said during the patrol. "If you see me and slow down, then I'm happy."

South Morrison Avenue at North Illinois Street

Specifics: On the Collinsville-Caseyville border, the T-intersection has a red light in the middle of a gradual hill, which allows drivers to quickly accelerate before stopping. Further north, more hills allow speeding, similar to the Keebler corner.

Common violation: Speeding

Where to watch: Morrison between Loop Street and the Caseyville border. Akers said southbound motorists leaving downtown often don't pay attention to the hill near Loop, making it easy to blow past the 30 mph speed limit. Many top 40 mph near the Brooks Catsup Bottle at 800 S. Morrison. "You can really build a lot of speed," he said.

Police have been told to check speeds frequently in the area, especially near where Morrison turns into Illinois Street.

Belt Line Road and Vandalia Street

Specifics: The complicated, multi-lane intersection has several traffic signals, which means more rear-end accidents if motorists aren't paying attention. Side-swipe accidents are also possible for motorists on the one-way access lane from southbound Vandalia to westbound Belt Line, where drivers sometimes merge without looking.

Common incident: Following too closely, lane changes without signals

Where to watch: Police have added more patrols of the corner, as well as farther south on Vandalia. The street may become less crowded following the proposed widening of Illinois Route 159, which follows Vandalia through Collinsville, in coming years.

Other police patrol hot spots

  • Main and Clay streets in Downtown Collinsville, which has pedestrians, several stop signs and slow speeds
  • Vandalia Street and East Country Lane near the Maryville border and Interstate 55/70
  • All school zones