Marysville chips in to brake traffic

By KATHY KORENGEL

Herald Writer

MARYSVILLE — Speeders beware. "CHiPS" may be coming soon to the city’s streets.

Sort of.

You may never see Eric Estrada, star of the 1970s TV show, astride a motorcycle in Marysville, but you may soon see the city’s first motorcycle police officers.

As part of a preliminary budget proposal, the city has included funding for such a patrol, whose main focus would be traffic enforcement.

The proposed $49.1 million budget was released Thursday, and a public hearing on the proposal is planned for Nov. 13. Copies of the preliminary budget are available at the city clerk’s office.

In addition to the new motorcycle unit, the plan calls for a traffic management program, in which neighborhoods could directly petition the city for help with traffic problems in their neighborhoods.

"Traffic has been a major problem in Marysville for years, violations, congestion, accidents," said Cmdr. Ralph Krusey of the Marysville Police Department. Krusey has been with the department for two years, but he said he’s heard from other police personnel that traffic problems have "increased significantly from three or four years ago."

The proposed motorcycle unit would consist of two new officer positions. The cost of the two new positions is estimated to be $94,348, Krusey said.

The motorcycle officers would be responsible for traffic enforcement and traffic accident investigations as well as leading traffic workshops in schools and the community.

The city now relies on patrol officers to enforce traffic regulations. "With a traffic unit, we can respond more timely to citizen complaints," Krusey said.

The proposed traffic management plan includes a new program called the Neighborhood Traffic Management Program, said Owen Carter, city engineer.

Through the program, residents with neighborhood concerns about traffic problems — speeding, congestion, traffic cutting through residential streets rather than staying on arterial routes — could petition the public works department to address the problem, Carter said.

The public works department would then gather information, work with the neighborhood to think of a solution, and implement a temporary remedy. This could include restriping streets or putting in speed bumps or traffic circles.

If the remedy proved effective, residents of the neighborhood could vote to make it a permanent solution.

Carter said the neighborhood program was already tested on a pilot basis on 72nd Drive NE, behind Cedar Crest Golf Course.

"Speed limits went down about 10 miles an hour," Carter said.

The city has started implementing the new program, but won’t be able to continue it next year without the $50,000 budgeted for the program in the 2001 preliminary budget, Carter said.

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