Police use grant to monitor local traffic

By Stephanie Gomes

With warmer weather approaching and pedestrians and bicycles filling the streets, the Champaign Police Department is using the remainder of a 2007 speeding grant to ensure safety on the streets.

In September 2007, the police department received the $33,000 grant to hire back additional officers for traffic enforcement.

“The goal is not to write more tickets and produce more revenue but to reduce the number of accidents,” said Sgt. Jim Clark of the Champaign Police Department. “Speed is a huge contributor to accidents.”

The grant from the Illinois Department of Transportation started in November and continued only through the end of that month. It will resume for the months of April, May, June, August and September.

According to a city press release, the department is targeting speed enforcement in certain areas: Windsor Road from Neil Street to Staley Road, Church Street from Prospect to Mattis avenues, Bradley Avenue from Prospect Avenue to Duncan Road and Neil Street from Windsor to Olympian roads.

The Illinois Department of Transportation has listed the four locations in the top 10 accident areas in Champaign, said Clark.

“Once we targeted these areas, we figured out which ones were caused by speed,” he said.

Neil Street is also a main area of concern for the Champaign Police, Clark said.

“Neil Street is always a high accident area,” he said. “We are targeting the whole street.”

With spring here, there are more pedestrians and bicycles on the streets, he said. Champaign police are trying to bring some heightened awareness to their safety.

Griffet added that the grant funds were not used during the winter months.

“There are not as many violations during winter because weather conditions are not conducive for speeding,” he said. “Officers often have to deal with other issues associated with weather.”

The grant fund is also used to reimburse wages and mileage costs, said Griffet. Up to two officers a day will be targeting any one of the four areas from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., during high traffic hours.

“We are trying to help make it a safe spring and summer,” Griffet said.