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Clayton BOC approves new speed limits

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

The Clayton County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved an ordinance, on Tuesday, that makes some minor changes in the county's speed limit ordinance, mainly to reflect the opening of two new school facilities in the Morrow and Panhandle areas, and recent roadwork in Rex.

The ordinance made five speed limit changes in areas around the county. It calls for the establishment of "reasonable and safe maximum vehicle speed limits" on highways in unincorporated parts of the county, and allows local law enforcement officers, and deputies, to use speed detection devices to facilitate "the orderly flow of traffic, and for the safety and welfare of the public."

It also authorizes county officials to apply for a new speed detection devices permit, from the Georgia Department of Public Safety.

Keith Rohling, the assistant director of Clayton County's transportation and development department, said the changes are being done to keep the speed limits current for the affected areas.

"First off, we've had two new schools open this year, so we had to create school zone speed limits around them," Rohling said. "To enforce it [a school zone speed limit], it has to be in the ordinance."

Rohling said the speed limit changes had to be done as part of the county's steps to renew its speed detection devices permit, which is set to expire at the end of this year. A request form, that was presented to the Clayton County Board of Education with the resolution, states that a new permit, if granted by the Georgia Department of Public Safety, would last through Dec. 31, 2013.

"This has to be done to renew our speed detection devices permit," Rohling said. "That is what gives the police department, and the sheriff's department the authority to run radar detection devices on those streets."

Clayton County Attorney Michael Smith said the application for the new permit may be sent sometime in the next month.

A list of proposed speed limit changes, presented to county commissioners with the ordinance, shows the speed limit modifications include:

* Setting a 25 mph school zone speed limit by the Eddie J. White K-8 School, on a half-mile stretch of Panhandle Road, around Olive Drive, near Lovejoy. The school opened in August.

* Setting a 25 mph school zone speed limit, by the new Morrow Middle School facility, on a 0.31 mile stretch of Trammel Road, just north of Old Rex Morrow Road, near Morrow. The facility opened in August.

* Posting a 35 mph speed limit on a 0.23 mile stretch of Rex Road, from Homestead Road, to Mill Street, in the Rex area. This section is already surrounded by two other sections of Rex road, to the east, and to the west, where the speed limit is presently set at 35 mph. This will create a single, 35 mph speed zone that stretches from the easterly end of Rex Circle, to Interstate 675.

Rohling said the construction of a new bridge, between Homestead Road, and Mill Street, caused some realignment in the roadway that allowed for the establishment of a single speed zone.

* Posting a 40 mph hour speed limit on a quarter-mile stretch of Forest Parkway, from Clark Howell Highway, to the southbound entrance ramp for Interstate 75, near Forest Park. There is currently no speed limit posted for that stretch of road, according to the list provided to commissioners.

* Changing the starting point for a 45 mph speed zone on Clark Howell Highway, from Ga. Hwy. 85, to Forest Parkway, near Forest Park. The end point for that speed zone will continue to be Interstate 285. Rohling said this is just a change in terminology, since Clark Howell Highway, Forest Parkway, and Ga. Hwy. 85 all meet at the same intersection.

The county commission also approved resolutions authorizing county officials to apply for a $100,000 grant from the Georgia Recreational Trails program, to be used for land acquisition in the county, and enter into a lease agreement with Rainbow House, Inc., to allow the non-profit children's organization to hold its "2010 Festival of Lights" event at Clayton County International Park.

In addition, commissioners approved a resolution that allows the Kem Kimbrough Foundation to hold a "Greg Street's Ride for the Kids" event at Clayton County International Park.