The Tennessee Department of Transportation reduced the speed limit from 50 mph to 40 mph in a construction zone on Alcoa Highway from the airport to North Hall Road, and the Alcoa Police Department has received criticism about how police officers have been enforcing the change.
“We have been hearing complaints about our officers enforcing the new reduced speed limit …,” Alcoa Police Department Chief David Carswell said. “We have also been hearing of complaints that we aren’t doing enough to slow the speeders down.”
After the speed reduction went into effect on Feb. 24, APD officers issued more warnings than citations as a way to educate drivers.
“There were some citations issued during that initial time period, but those were for some really excessive speeds,” Carswell said. “For example, one individual was stopped for doing 80 mph and passing other cars on the shoulder.”
From Feb. 24 through March 3, APD officers issued approximately 185 written warnings, and issued approximately 33 speeding citations.
Message boards in the area have been advertising the change. The construction speed zone will return to its original speed once normal lane sections are re-established.
Police will continue enforcing the 40 mph speed limit until construction is finished.
“Our advice is slow down and stay alert,” Carswell said. “We will be out there to enforce the speed limit. Not just through the construction zone, but throughout the city as well.”
He added the state reduced the speed limit to make the area less dangerous for road crews.
“The goal is to get vehicles through that area as safely as possible without injuring a construction worker or crashing into construction equipment or barriers,” Carswell said. “We do not want to work a construction zone fatality.”