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PennDOT workers put up a 'speed enforced by aircraft' sign on Route 422

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By Mitch Fryer
Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2011
 

A state police car waits a mile or more up Route 422 from the Margaret Road intersection while an airplane 2,500 feet in the air is clocking anyone going well over the allowed 55 mph limit.

Last week state police were able to use that speed enforcement method there to issue citations to nine drivers, including five operating commercial trucks, in one hour.

It was part of an effort by state police to crack down on aggressive drivers before the Labor Day holiday got under way.

The State Police Aerial Reconnaissance and Enforcement program, known as SPARE, works so well that police and PennDOT want to keep reminding motorists that they could be caught speeding in that dangerous area from the air at any given time.

The painted lines are in place and on Tuesday, a PennDOT work crew was putting up "Speed Enforced by Aircraft" signs on both sides of the intersection to remind motorists to slow down.

PennDOT District 10 safety press officer Shawn Houck said troopers can sit in an area and wait where it's safe for motorists and safe for them before pulling vehicles over.

"This area is very difficult for conventional enforcement techniques because of the lack of area to pull motorists off safely," said Houck. "When you look at the entire 422 corridor from Indiana to Kittanning the crash rates are actually under what you would expect for a highway of this design of winding hills, turns and dips and truck traffic. But when we do have a crash it's catastrophic in a lot of cases and it shuts down the highway for hours at a time."

"They're looking for standout speeders," he said. "It's all about saving lives and reducing fatalities on Route 422, an area where people tend to get pretty fast."

Lt. Tom Dubovi , state police commander in East Franklin, believes the signs will be an effective tool for police.

"Typically we don't tell them (we're there)," said Dubovi. "This road isn't designed that we can run radar in a lot of spots. We're spotted pretty quickly. With these signs, it will always be in the back of their mind that state police might have the plane up and be waiting up ahead."

There are 17,000 vehicles that travel Route 422 through the county a day, according to Dubovi, and when there is an accident it often involves a commercial vehicle and is violent and ties up traffic for five to six hours, he said.

"For years we've been looking for solutions for this section of highway to cut down on the crashes," Dubovi said. "We'll be able to slow people down and keep the speed in check."

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