Police to start patrols to catch Magnolia speeders

Lead-footed motorists are not paying attention to the 35-miles-per-hour speed limit on the western half of the Magnolia Bridge, according to Capt. Joe Kessler, commander of the Seattle Police Department's traffic section.

Police aren't pleased with the trend and have written more than 150 speeding tickets in just the past couple of months, he said, adding that the cops are working the bridge only an hour or so at a time.

Most tickets are for driving 45 to 60 m.p.h., Kessler said. "And we've also had a number of accidents in the area."

One of those involved a speeding motorist failing to negotiate a recently installed right-turn lane to Thorndyke Avenue West off the bridge road, he said. "While they were investigating that accident, they had another one."

Kessler drives an unmarked police car, which gives him an advantage in catching Magnolia speeders. "I stop people on a weekly basis," he said of motorists who are sometime going over 60 m.p.h. on the bridge. "That tells me, 'Man, you've got to do something about that,'" Kessler added.

Speeders, he said, also pose a hazard to trucks at Anthony's warehouse at mid-span of the bridge on the north side, which is where motorcycle officers with radar guns sometimes station themselves (see photo).

"The reality of it is, the situation is bad enough that citizens are constantly calling us [to complain]," Kessler said. Police are responding to the complaints by setting up emphasis patrols beginning at the turn of the new year, he said.

The patrols will be scheduled in areas with high traffic volumes such as the Magnolia Bridge, at peak commute times and randomly, according to Kessler.

The old days of setting up hidden speed traps are gone, though. "We would rather everybody know we're there," he said. "We don't want you to get a ticket; we want you to be safe."

Also worrisome for police is a four-way stop in Magnolia Village at the intersection of 33rd Avenue West and West McGraw Street. The four-way stop is relatively new, and more than a few people are blowing through the stop sign as they head west on McGraw, Kessler said.

"So I'm going to be requesting that [Seattle Department of Transportation] put in a four-way blinker at this intersection," he said. Seattle police meet with SDOT officials every month, Kessler added. "And we get very good response."[[In-content Ad]]