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River Watch speed limit was wrong, officials say

Sunday, June 23, 2013 12:50 AM
Last updated Monday, June 24, 2013 2:43 PM
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Stephanie College was surprised last month when she rounded a curve on River Watch Parkway and saw a sheriff’s deputy aiming a radar gun at her Infiniti M35.

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A black bag covers a 45 mph speed limit sign on River Watch Parkway.  EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
A black bag covers a 45 mph speed limit sign on River Watch Parkway.


She was more surprised when she was pulled over.

“I was in between a minivan and an SUV of some kind, so I thought he was targeting me because of my car,” said College, who takes River Watch home every day after work.

The officer explained that he was standing behind the 45 mph speed limit sign when he clocked her going 62.

“I said, ‘No, I’m pretty sure it is 55 here,’ ” she said. “I still didn’t believe him. I never saw the sign.”

The sign was there, but it was wrong.

For months the speed limit on that portion of River Watch was marked incorrectly, without the knowledge of the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office. Police say the tickets they issued during that time are valid, but some drivers are wondering whether they should have been charged for violating an incorrect speed limit.

Augusta Traffic Engineer Steve Cas­sell said the lower speed limit was posted by a contractor working on improvements to the Augusta Canal tow path.

Cassell said the contractor in charge of the project had authorization to reduce the speed limit from 55 mph to 45 mph, but only during specific hours and under certain conditions.

According to a plan approved by the Georgia Department of Transportation, the speed limit could be reduced between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., but not during peak traffic times, such as when drivers were leaving work.

“They really should have covered up the 45 mph signs otherwise,” Cassell said. “That speed was just to be in effect when there was a lane closed. It’s just when they are bringing in certain heavy equipment.”

Cassell said the contractor misunderstood the authorization and posted the new signs, probably in late February.

Russell Foster, the project manager for the Augusta Canal Authority, said the lower speed limit should have been invoked on only two instances.

“The contractor just made a mistake,” he said. “We corrected it as soon as we were aware of it.”

Foster said Cassell notified him that the signs were in error June 3, and the contractor covered them with black plastic bags the same day.

Before that, deputies were enforcing the posted 45 mph limit.

Sheriff’s Lt. Ramone Lamkin said traffic officers weren’t aware of the problem with the signs. He said the effort on River Watch was part of general traffic enforcement.

“It would have been nice if someone had let us know,” Lamkin said. “We just try to work proactively to slow people down.”

He wasn’t sure how many speeding tickets were issued in the past month or so on River Watch because the office doesn’t track citations by street and most of those issued have already been sent to State Court.

Since the black bags were placed over the signs, Lamkin said, his officers have been enforcing the 55 mph limit. Sheriff’s Lt. Calvin Chew said fewer than 20 speeding tickets had been issued on River Watch in the past 10 days – the length of time citations are kept at the sheriff’s office before being forwarded to court.

State Court Solicitor Kellie McIntyre did not return messages seeking information about the tickets.

College said she thinks that if the speed limit was wrong, then she was ticketed incorrectly. Court officials told her the fine would be $341.

“I’m going to fight it,” she said. She expects to make an argument before a judge July 15.

Lamkin said the tickets should stand because they were issued in good faith by officers enforcing a posted speed limit.

“As long as the DOT approved it and it was posted, we can enforce it,” he said.

Comments (39)

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thauch12
4363
Points
thauch12 06/23/13 - 01:37 am
18
3

What a world we live in...

"Lamkin said the tickets should stand because they were issued in good faith by officers enforcing a posted speed limit.
'As long as the DOT approved it and it was posted, we can enforce it, he said"

...that's exactly the problem here. "Good faith" or not, the DOT did NOT approve it, at least not the way it was posted or enforced.

It looks like years of being a member of the Richmond County Motorcycle Gestapo has eroded Mr. Lamkin's ability to understand logical arguments, leaving him only able to recite credos approved by Fuhrer Roundtree. It just goes to show you these crooks will stop at nothing to line their coffers.

southern2
4212
Points
southern2 06/23/13 - 06:43 am
11
2

Another Augusta "speed trap"

Another Augusta "speed trap" revealed.

Riverman1
70351
Points
Riverman1 06/23/13 - 07:24 am
17
1

Tear Up the Tickets

Simply put the tickets should be torn up. DOT did NOT authorize 45 mph during those hours. It's best for Lt. Lampkin and the RCSO not to tap dance on this issue and admit the error. Don't attempt to justify an obvious wrong. They should become proactive and inform the legal system of the mistake. If these tickets are allowed to stand anyone can put up their own speed limit on the road in front of their house and officers could ticket drivers.

owensjef3
5507
Points
owensjef3 06/23/13 - 07:10 am
8
1

Can you say Rosco P Coltrain,

Unpublished

Can you say Rosco P Coltrain, lol.

Dixieman
10350
Points
Dixieman 06/23/13 - 07:35 am
6
1

Lawyerfest '13

Lots of hungry attorneys out there who would love to start a class action, folks. Give them your tickets!

justthefacts
17964
Points
justthefacts 06/23/13 - 07:46 am
7
1

Little Lamb

LL pointed out that speed trap last week.

Darth Vader
8
Points
Darth Vader 06/23/13 - 07:58 am
4
0

Roscoe P. Coltrane

owensjef3

You gave my wife and I the best laugh this morning! Thanks!

nocnoc
30705
Points
nocnoc 06/23/13 - 08:43 am
7
3

A few quick questions.

When were speed limits changed?
The Article says Late February.
About when was Operation Thunder started on River Watch?
It begun Feb. 14,

Given the RCSO has a list of designated Radar patrol-able areas stating speeds, how did this happen?

Does GA-DOT & ARC usually allow contractors to reduce speed limits or is this just a convenient dodge to get around blame?

Since we are always told it is about safety and not revenue:
will tickets be voided?
will already paid tickets be adjusted?

BTW: back in 1972-4(?) an Augusta PD Motorcycle officer was running a speed trap on Highland Ave. by Daniel Field.

The city was widening Highland out to Gordon Hwy at that time and dropped the speed to 25 and I was doing 38.

I argued in court that I had not done 13 over but the 3 over according to the normal posted speed limit and the current viewable speed limit signs. Plus there was no intend to violate the limit because a City dump truck just happen to be parked in front of the Speed limit sign "accidentally" blocking any ones from reading it.

The Judge dismissed more than 1 ticket that day.

owensjef3
5507
Points
owensjef3 06/23/13 - 09:04 am
3
1

You are most welcome

Unpublished

You are most welcome

vortruck
6
Points
vortruck 06/23/13 - 09:15 am
4
3

Paying for Pay Raise

How are expected to pay for Richie Rich's pay raise he gave his self after getting elected? Get real.

americafirst
958
Points
americafirst 06/23/13 - 09:40 am
8
0

$341 for a simple speeding

$341 for a simple speeding ticket? No wonder the State Court system is so overwhelmed with people having difficulty paying their fines off when probation supervision fees are being added on monthly.

itsanotherday1
34523
Points
itsanotherday1 06/23/13 - 09:47 am
8
1

I would be madder than a durn

I would be madder than a durn hornet if I had caught a $341 ticket on an error.

JRC2024
6950
Points
JRC2024 06/23/13 - 09:59 am
8
1

That is not right and sheriff

That is not right and sheriff roundtree should be ashamed of himself if he does not research this and void all tickets issued during that time. By the way watch out at the bottom of the hill on Jackson Rd. The officer stands there with his laser gun and checks you going down the hill instead of up. Checks you coming off Calhoun onto Washington Rd and several other places I have seen but cannot recall.I guess he is having to pay for the stickers to put his name on the cars-tacky tacky tacky. I wonder if he keeps a limo on call.

...point to ponder
641
Points
...point to ponder 06/23/13 - 10:06 am
7
1

Errior in judgement ...

State DOT needs to step in and correct local officials passing buck.

This is a comedy of errors at the expense of the driving public.

Maybe our local DOT board member will step in and move to correct this matter.

TCB22
533
Points
TCB22 06/23/13 - 10:15 am
8
0

Left hand, meet right hand

This is terrible. Communication with law enforcement should be paramount anytime a speed sign is posted. The left hand needs to know what the right hand is doing so citizens are not wrongfully cited.

Fayette
89
Points
Fayette 06/23/13 - 10:54 am
3
8

Speed Limit

"Limit" is defined as the maximum ----and in some cases the minimum. Ms. College was exceeding the limit....whether it was 45 or 55. She was going 62. That exceeded the "limit". All who drive over the limit should be subject to receiving a ticket. So all of you that speed can fuss at me!!!! Most of you that speed probably pass me everyday day on Washington Rd and River Watch.

palmetto1008
9782
Points
palmetto1008 06/23/13 - 11:03 am
5
1

I agree, Fayette. However, I

Unpublished

I agree, Fayette. However, I suspect her fine would not be as stiff if she was doing 62 in a 55. This is a hard one....the posted limit was 45, even though it was erroneous. I'm looking forward to a judge's call on this one.

OJP
4601
Points
OJP 06/23/13 - 11:15 am
6
1

Richmond County shouldn't defend this.

It is very off-putting. The police are there to enforce the law. If they incorrectly did so, there's no shame in voiding the tickets.

But there is in defending turf for the sake of defending turf.

Frank I
1132
Points
Frank I 06/23/13 - 11:47 am
2
0

speaking of speeding

Has anyone else happened to notice that the 35mph speed limit posted on Riverwatch extends from the I-20E exit all the way to Steven's Creek Rd?

draksig
167
Points
draksig 06/23/13 - 11:49 am
8
0

In Good faith?

I doubt it. If the contractor had posted 70 MPH signs by mistake, would LE honor that speed limit sign? Of course not.

Fayette
89
Points
Fayette 06/23/13 - 12:14 pm
1
4

Frank I

I have. I reduce my speed at that point and almost get run over.

GnipGnop
10935
Points
GnipGnop 06/23/13 - 12:20 pm
4
0

So all a policeman has to do is testify

that he gave tickets in good faith and that's ok? Hogwash!!! Tear them up, you made a mistake, own up to it and do the right thing for once!!!!

whyme
1089
Points
whyme 06/23/13 - 02:04 pm
2
9

not surprised

I am not surprised that, not only did the woman in the article feel that she did not deserve a ticket for going "only" 7 miles over the speed limit, most of the posters on here are equally as irritated as she is. That is the problem. Folks want to get away with things all of the time, and speeding is one of them. Just because everyone does it doesn't make it right. I get it that she was ticketed for a higher speed than was posted, so the right thing to do would be to give her an amended fee for the speed she was doing. "Just" 7 miles over? Why bother to have limits at all? It is the way Americans live these days. No one wants you to encourage respect, morals, rules, or ethics, and if you find the way someone dresses, acts, drives, or behaves less than respectful, morally or ethically inappropriate, or just plain illegal, what business is it of yours? Gone are the days of manners, modesty, and courtesy; I know, I'd better just get over it. And for the record, yes, I often drive about 5 miles over the speed limit and if I would be pulled over, I would take my ticket because I deserved it.

Riverman1
70351
Points
Riverman1 06/23/13 - 02:45 pm
3
0

Isn't it Georgia law that no

Isn't it Georgia law that no one but a State Highway Patrolman can give a speeding ticket for less than 10mph over the limit?

nocnoc
30705
Points
nocnoc 06/23/13 - 03:23 pm
1
0

THE MORE STRICT SPEED

THE MORE STRICT SPEED ENFORCEMENT ZONES

Just a few of the ones I know off the top of my head.

Bobby Jones between 25 & 56 East bound Bottom of a steep hill and a curve.

Bobby Jones Between Wrightsboro Rd and Wheeless Rd. West bound.

Parked behind 56 @ T-s Restaurant watching South & North Bound Traffic (on Sundays)

US-25 North bound between Mims Rd and Hwy 88 where the speed limits change from 65 to 55.

Bobby Jones between West bound between Glenn Hills and Gordon Hwy

US-25 Gracewood bottom of steep hill near pepper ridge.

Windsor Spring Rd. bottom of hill near Meadow Brook.

Bottom 56 Hill near Dixon Airline / Butler Creek

56 Loop between Dixon and Marvin Griffin Rd.

River Watch (naturally)

Hwy 88 from US25 Hephzibah

Walton way hill headed into town from Heard past Richmond Academy --- another steep hill.

Many I agree with.
But a few are outright traps setup periodically at the bottom of steep hills were either you ride your brake so run the risk of a ticket.
example: Bottom of Bobby Jones between 25 and 56 or Glenn Hills and Gordon Hwy

Fiat_Lux
13857
Points
Fiat_Lux 06/23/13 - 03:34 pm
5
0

Ignorance of the law is no excuse

even if the ignorant are the police.

They can't have it both ways, and saying the tickets were given in "good faith" doesn't make the tickets legal and legitimate.

EMS4411
50
Points
EMS4411 06/23/13 - 03:40 pm
0
0

I believe the Sheriff's

I believe the Sheriff's Office can track who got tickets when the Officer stops a car he radio's in his location with a tag and description of the car and if he writes a ticket he as for a incident # and time of stop and the dispatcher types that into computer. And the Sherifff's Office Dispatch Center can tell a Officer how many times they have been to a certain Location so to me they and plug in River Watch Pkwy in to the computer and track every Traffic Stop that has been done and get the information and send it to the court for a refund of the money. It involves a little bit of work but can be done. But the agency will loose profits gained from all these false stops.

rtrct2dok
15
Points
rtrct2dok 06/23/13 - 03:49 pm
3
1

Where exactly is this?

I got a speeding ticket April 26th on riverwatch. There were at least 5 motorcycle cops on the side of the road pulling everybody over. There was one cop with the radar pointing at people to pull over, then the motorcycle cops would go get them. They had me and 5 other people pulled over at once, then after that they would start over. The ticket says I was going 67 in a 45. I would like to get this reduced if I could. Who would I talk to?

corgimom
19185
Points
corgimom 06/23/13 - 04:23 pm
1
2

Don't people pay attention to

Don't people pay attention to signs any more?

You never know when there IS road construction, or lawn mowing, or trash pickup.

But I wonder, I lived in Augusta and North Augusta- which is one GIGANTIC speed trap- and I never got a speeding ticket. Neither do thousands of other people that live in Augusta.

Gee, I wonder how that is?

corgimom
19185
Points
corgimom 06/23/13 - 04:25 pm
1
6

But for the person that

But for the person that thinks that $341 is too much to pay for a speeding ticket-

Seen people at the mall, and see what they spend? See what lots of women spend on their hair? See what women spend on their shoes?

Seen people at restaurants, where they can easily spend over $100 and not blink an eye?

If you can't afford a $341 ticket, then you'd better drive cautiously. Isn't that a simple solution?

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