Solicitor to dismiss River Watch tickets where signs were wrong

Richmond County State Court Solicitor Kellie McIntyre said she expects to dismiss speeding tickets issued on a part of River Watch Parkway where the speed limit signs were wrong.

In a statement issued Thursday, McIntyre said that in the interest of fairness, her office will try to identify any of the questionable citations issued on River Watch for review.

“It is important to note that this does not include all citations issued on River Watch Park­way; however, we anticipate that those that were issued because of the error will be dismissed,” her statement said.

The citations were called into question this week after The Augusta Chronicle reported that Richmond County sheriff’s officers had been enforcing a speed limit on a portion of River Watch that was marked incorrectly for months.

Deputies issued an unknown number of tickets to motorists for violating the posted 45 mph limit. Officials said the limit should have been 55 mph but that it was changed in error by a contractor working on improvements to the Augusta Canal towpath.

Sheriff’s Lt. Calvin Chew said the traffic officers were not aware the signs were wrong at the time the tickets were issued.

Augusta Traffic Engineer Steve Cassell said the contractor had authorization from the Department of Transportation to reduce the speed limit to 45 mph, but only during specific hours and under certain conditions. According to a plan approved by the DOT, the speed limit could be reduced between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., and only when a lane was closed for construction purposes.

The speed limit was reduced again under those conditions Thursday, one of a handful of occasions since February when a lane needed to be closed.

McIntyre said her office had been inundated by calls from drivers asking about tickets since reports were published in the newspaper.

She said it would be very difficult for her staff to identify every ticket that was issued under the erroneous speed limit, so it will be up to individual drivers to bring the matter to the attention of the court.

She said the number of citations in general has risen dramatically since Sheriff Richard Roundtree established a new traffic division in January.

“We have no early idea how many were issued on River Watch during that time,” Mc­Intyre said. “We had a calendar today that had over 300 citations on it.”

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Mon, 12/05/2016 - 22:47

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