For the second time this year, the Albany City Council was asked Monday to do something about the 20 mph school zone on Waverly Drive east of the South Albany High School football field.
The request came from Johnny Scot Van Ras, who’s retired from the Georgia Pacific pulp mill in Halsey and lives on S.E. 45th Avenue.
He got a $165 ticket on Waverly for going 39 mph in what’s a 40 mph zone normally. His misfortune that this was at 9:30 on the morning of Oct. 11, a Thursday. Had it been the next morning, Van Ras could have gone 40 and nobody would have cared. Friday was a no-school day, whereas Thursday was not.
In August, Diane Conrad , a resident of the nearby Mennonite Village, asked the council to get rid of the school zone on that section of Waverly because it’s unnecessary. The street is a block away from the high school, is separated from the athletic field by a cyclone fence, has good visibility and two crosswalks marked with flashing lights, and gets almost no foot traffic except other than people walking their dogs on the sidewalks.
A month, later the council turned down her request.
On Monday Van Ras told the council about his ticket and denounced what he called a speed trap. Councilman Rich Kellum said Albany doesn’t run speed traps. But Van Ras disagreed.
His court date on the ticket is this Wednesday. He’ll argue that the speed zone is improper because it has no sign showing where it ends. School zones are supposed to have signs where they start and where they end, but not all in Albany do.
He suggested that at least, the Waverly signs should be upgraded with lights that flash to alert drivers when the school zone is in effect. Now, it’s in effect from 7 to 5 “on school days.” But unless it’s announced on reader boards, how are drivers without kids in school supposed to know what are school days and what days aren’t?
Last month, Albany schools took days off on one Thursday and three Fridays: Oct. 12, 19, 25, and 26. This month there’s no school on Nov. 12, 22 and 23.
Will anything come of the man’s request for the council to reconsider that school zone? The council didn’t ask the essential question the last time and there’s no sign it will consider it now. The essential question is: What makes that zone necessary when no school children are — or are likely to be — on, in or near the street?
If the council can’t find a persuasive answer, it will confirm the charge that the chance to collect fines from unwary drivers is the main reason for that zone. (hh)