New H Street sees increased speeding

Published on Wed, Aug 31, 2011 by Jeremy Schwartz

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Blaine police have seen an increase in resident complaints about vehicles speeding on H Street and are stepping up patrols in the area to try to combat the problem.

Blaine police chief Mike Haslip said the Blaine Police Department has fielded 36 complaints about traffic citywide since the beginning of the year, which averages approximately one complaint per week. Ten of those 36, just more than a quarter, were about speeding on H Street. Six of those 10 complaints were in the last few months, Haslip added.

The sections of H Street in question stretch from State Route 543 up the H Street hill and from Valley View Road in east Blaine to Harvey Road. Construction crews just finished improving the section of H Street from the truck route to the H Street hill, adding traffic islands, a center turn lane and repairing multiple potholes.

Since August 1, Blaine police have issued 15 infractions to drivers on H Street from the hill to the truck route. Haslip said the violations have ranged from 20 mph over the 25-mph speed limit to 37 mph over.

On the stretch of H Street in east Blaine, police have issued 13 infractions to drivers traveling at speeds ranging from 45 to 62 mph, all in a 25-mph zone. This stretch of road has seen the addition of numerous driveways over the last few years and has always offered limited site distance to drivers because of the rolling hills the road crosses, Haslip explained.

For comparison, the stretch of H Street from the truck route to Valley View Road saw a total of 14 speeding citations in August 2010; half of the amount seen in August this year. Haslip estimated Blaine municipal court could have handed out a maximum $4,424 in penalties for speeding violations in August of this year, though that number does not necessarily represent the actual number of fines imposed.

Of the four criminal citations for reckless driving issued in Blaine in August, three were given to drivers on H Street. Haslip suspects most of the drivers who have received infractions live in Whatcom County, though a few tickets may have been issued to Canadian drivers.

In addition to increased patrols in the area, Haslip said Blaine police have been working with Blaine public works to make people more aware of the 25-mph speed limit in the area. Haslip said efforts to preempt speeding, such as bright yellow curbs on the traffic islands and orange flags posted on the speed limit signs, are preferable to writing speeding tickets.

“We do not want to be writing tickets,” Haslip said. “That’s the last resort.”

Drivers keeping to the speed limit along H Street is all the more important this time of year because of school starting, Haslip said. The newly improved H Street hill has also seen increased use from children and teenagers riding skateboards and bicycles.

“A skateboarder or bicyclist does not mix well with a car doing 60 mph,” Haslip said. “A crash is the very last thing we want.”