Street Smarts: 41st Avenue is a speed trap, some drivers contend

Some readers got worked up by a question and answer last week regarding the speed limit on 41st Avenue in Everett between Colby Avenue and I-5.

The city set the speed limit at 30 mph instead of 35 mph because of the road design, which had to be approved by the state, Everett traffic engineer Dongho Chang wrote. Also, the number of businesses and pedestrians in the area were factors in keeping the speed lower.

Still, some drivers say the stretch of street is a speed trap.

Mike McCallister of Everett writes: Everett police are taking advantage of the topography to pad their ticketing.

As one arrives at the ramp stoplight after exiting I-5, there is a 90-degree turn uphill onto 41st. If you drive either a heavy car or truck, it takes a fair amount of acceleration to achieve 30 mph. However, the road then rapidly crowns atop the bridge over I-5 and actually goes downhill for a very short section before heading uphill again. A car can easily reach 40 to 45 mph for a very brief segment of this passage before slowing on the next uphill segment.

Police have positioned their radar so as to read the speed of cars on the road as they have accelerated into this short dip. Most folks keep their acceleration constant as they come up the bridge, because there’s that second uphill section to Colby. In my opinion, this is no different from giving someone a ticket for accelerating briefly to pass another vehicle. If the police really want to make the trip from I-5 to Rucker Avenue or Mukilteo Boulevard safer, they should be more honest about the placement of their radar units. This is a typical “Texas speed trap” technique used in the South by local police departments to fatten their purses from unsuspecting motorists who are unfamiliar with local hills and downslopes.

Elaine Dow of Snohomish writes: I am one of those “caught” by the Everett police. I have driven for more than 40 years and this is my first speeding ticket. I was ticketed at 35 mph and paid more than $100.

Even though this happened in January, I am still upset. This is clearly a “speed trap.” You come off of I-5 and you do slow down — the stop light is just ahead. But hidden behind a pole and only visible if you are really looking is a sign that says 25 mph. That changes to 30 when you get near Colby.

The police hide behind a bush right near where the signs change. And those who do not see the 25 mph sign get caught with “no excuse.”

The police department may be making money at this location, but they are unnecessarily annoying the public. Can’t they find a better way to use their manpower than to ticket someone for going 35 mph in a transitional location?

Robert Goetz, public information officer for the Everett Police Department, responds to both comments:

The area east of Colby Avenue on 41st Street is routinely patrolled by our traffic safety unit as is done in other areas of the city that are known to have a high incidence of speed violations.

Write Street Smarts at stsmarts@heraldnet.com. Include your city of residence.

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