Money from Kellogg ‘safety corridor’ would be used to catch more speeders

04/07/2012 5:00 AM

08/05/2014 6:47 PM

A proposal that would allow Wichita to designate Kellogg a “traffic safety corridor” could generate well over $200,000 a year in extra speeding fines, much of which would be used to catch more speeders on Kellogg, Wichita Municipal Court data show.

From 2005 through 2011, the data show, Wichita police issued an annual average of 6,600 speeding tickets on Kellogg, and those tickets resulted in an annual average of $966,000 in fines and court costs being assessed against drivers.

Deduct from that total the court costs — which are at most 70 percent — and that leaves at least $289,000 a year in speeding fines that would have to be doubled if Kellogg becomes a safety corridor. All of the extra money would go into a special fund that would be used to pay for signs, traffic enforcement and education.

“It’s a revenue-neutral thing,” said Kansas Department of Transportation spokesman Steve Swartz. “It’s not something that’s intended to make the state any money.”

KDOT data show that Kellogg is the city’s busiest street, and Municipal Court data show that it is the most heavily policed. From 2006 through 2011, the data show, 10.6 percent of the tickets issued by Wichita police were written on Kellogg. Those tickets generated 9.3 percent of the Municipal Court fines and court costs.

Police wrote an average of 24 tickets a day on Kellogg during the seven-year period, 16 of which were for speeding.

The safety corridor bill in its original form calls for the doubling of fines for all moving violations in a safety corridor. but Swartz said the bill has since been amended to cover only speeding fines.

In Wichita, a ticket today for exceeding the speed limit by 10 mph costs $115, which includes a $50 fine and $65 in court costs. Under the “safety corridor” scenario, the fine would double to $100, bringing the overall cost to $165.

Wichita City Council member Pete Meitzner, whose 2nd District takes in much of East Kellogg, said he would have to see the final version of the bill before deciding whether he could support a “safety corridor” designation for Kellogg.

If the law appears to be a “money grab” or something that could offend visitors to the city, he said he probably wouldn’t support it. If there are legitimate safety reasons for the designation, he said, he probably would.

Council Member Jeff Longwell, whose 5th District takes in much of West Kellogg, had similar feelings.

“I know there are some folks out there who think that if we would stiffen the penalties we could reduce the number of accidents,” he said.

But Longwell said he, too, would have to see the final wording of the law before deciding whether he would support designating Kellogg a “safety corridor.”

Ticket data

Municipal Court data show that more tickets are issued on East Kellogg than West Kellogg, but that the gap has narrowed in recent years. The portion of tickets on the east side of Kellogg dropped from 78 percent in 2005 to less than 51 percent in 2011.

The data show that Kellogg drivers are more likely to be ticketed between Tyler and Maize than any other place on the highway. That one-mile stretch of road generated 9,582 tickets from 2005 through 2011, and resulted in the assessment of $1.4 million in fines and costs.

The next busiest stretch, between Rock and Webb, generated 8,551 tickets and $1.3 million in fines and court costs. The third busiest, between Woodlawn and Oliver, produced 7,315 tickets and $1.1 million in fines and costs.

By comparison, the stretch between Washington and Seneca — essentially the Kellogg Flyover — generated 1,910 tickets and $270,917 in fines and costs.

Most traffic tickets list a hundred-block as a location, and the 9400 block of West Kellogg, which is between Tyler and Maize, was the leading block in the city from 2005 through 2011. Police issued 4,718 citations in that block that resulted in $756,000 in fines and court costs.

The second-most-active block, in terms of dollars, was the 5300 block of East Kellogg, which is in front of the Robert J. Dole Veterans Administration Hospital. Police wrote 3,781 tickets in that block over the seven-year period that resulted in more than $530,000 in assessed fines and court costs.

Third on the list was the 8000 block of West 21st Street, which is halfway between Ridge and Tyler. That block produced 3,845 tickets that resulted in more than $485,000 in assessed fines and costs.

Wichita police Sgt Jerry Quick said police typically look at accidents and citizen complaints when deciding where to focus their traffic enforcement efforts. When there are a large number of tickets issued in a single block, he said, it’s often an indication that the block gives officers a spot to safely monitor traffic.

“Sometimes it’s just a place where an officer can set up and position himself to monitor traffic and not be a hazard,” he said.

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