July 25, 2016

Partly cloudy

Brunswick Council says no to plan to double fines in work zone

BRUNSWICK — City Council Safety Committee members killed a plan Monday that would have doubled the fines for motorists ticketed for speeding in a work zone.

The committee, which had been considering the measure for more than two months, took the action after Police Chief Carl DeForest said the legislation wasn’t necessary.

“I think you’re trying to legalize a behavior that hasn’t been a problem,” DeForest told the committee Monday.

“In 22 years, I’ve only seen one injury and it was on I-71, and it was the worker’s fault,” DeForest said. “He didn’t look both ways before he ran out in front of traffic.”

City Law Director Ken Fisher in December told the committee that the legislation would be difficult to enforce. Those comments were echoed by DeForest on Monday.

“In order to enforce it, you would have to be inside the construction zone to monitor the speed,” he said.

City laws require all construction zones to have at least one city police unit stationed ahead of the zone to warn motorists. Cleveland Water has an exemption from this rule in its contract.

Safety Service Director Pat McNamara said city crews usually erect orange signs to warn motorists and noted that on many back roads, the speed limit is only 25 mph.

Motorists traveling on Interstate 71 through Brunswick would be subject to state laws that allow for the doubling of fines on interstate highways.

Councilman Dave Coleman, Ward 3, who sits on the Safety Committee, said he doesn’t think a law could be written in a way that it could be easily enforced.

“I don’t see this being reasonable to pass in a city this size,” Coleman said.

Committee Chairman Vince Carl, Ward 2, said he thought enforcement of traffic laws that are already on the books would be enough to keep work zones safe.

“I’ve been on Council for 10 years, and I don’t legislate just because I can,” Carl said. “I don’t think this will solve a problem.”

In other action Monday, Council met in a regular session and approved legislation that would set aside $450,000 in road improvement funds for work on Boston and North Carpenter roads.

Finance Director Todd Fischer discussed the spending with Council during preparations for the 2013 budget in December.

The $450,000, combined with set-asides that began in 2010 now totals

$1.7 million, but the city’s share of road work projects is estimated to cost at least $4 to $5 million.

“Setting this money aside is a huge step,” Fischer said. “But it still falls short of our $4 (million) to $5 million local commitment.”

The city committed to the road work about 17 years ago, but never established a way to pay for the improvements. It wasn’t until 2010 that Council and Fischer implemented a plan to begin saving money to pay for the project.

Contact reporter Loren Genson at (330) 721-4063 or lgenson@medina-gazette.com.

Loren Genson About Loren Genson

Loren Genson was The Gazette's senior reporter. From August 2012 through September 2015, she covered Brunswick city and state and national government. To contact The Gazette, call the managing editor at (330) 721-4065.