SPD: Speed limit reduced on portion of FM 914

Police department seeks funding of improved forensic technology

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This 60 mph speed limit sign at the entrance to Alexander Ridge leaving town on 914 at Harper's Mill Road is one of the signs that will be changed. || Flash photo by AMANDA KIMBLE

By AMANDA KIMBLE
TheFlashToday.com

STEPHENVILLE (February 14, 2017) – Motorists along Alexander Highway, also known as FM 914, better slow down.

A portion of the highway that recently had a 60 mph speed limit has been reduced. The Stephenville City Council recently approved an ordinance changing the speed limit from Harper’s Mill Road the southern city limits.

Police Chief Jason King said the speed reduction was the result of a study recently conducted by Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), following complaints from residents in the Alexander Ridge, Elk Ridge and Heritage Hills subdivisions.

“The concern at the Alexander Ridge subdivision was attempting to turn onto FM 914 at that location due to the speed change,” King said.

The speed limit jumped from 45 to 60 mph at the subdivision entrance, and residents said exiting the neighborhood was oftentimes difficult as motorists traveling along FM 914 increased their speed while leaving town.

Meanwhile, traffic coming into Stephenville created issues for Elk Ridge and Heritage Hills, which are located in proximity to a “s curve.” In that area, residents said the 60 mph speed limit and reduced line of sight due to the curve in the road created hazards. 

“TxDOT proposed instead of a change from 45 to 60, a gradual increase from 45 to 50,” King said, adding the 50 mph speed limit would remain in effect from Harper’s Mill Road through the southern city limits, and past where new residential developments are currently being constructed.

In other items related to public safety, the city council recently greenlighted a request by King seeking approval for application to a justice assistance grant for new technology that will aid in crime scene reconstruction.

King said the 360-degree laser scanner will enable a single user to capture precise interactive three-dimensional images of indoor and outdoor structures and spaces. He said the technology is ideal for capturing and documenting forensic evidence at traffic collisions and crime scenes, and the collected data would be admissible in court.

“The 3D scan of a scene can be used as an accurate, scaled, virtual representation of the original event,” King said. “The software will make it possible to create an animation which moves the user through the scene from a variety of different angles and perspectives.”

He also said the current equipment used by the police department – a step up from manual reconstruction – has been in service since 2012 and requires multiple operators.

The newer technology, which includes a laser scanner mounted on a bi-pod, laptop, software and evidence storage, can be used to document and analyze bullet trajectories, bloodstain patterns, tire impressions, vehicle crash patterns and arson sites.

The cost of the equipment is less than $80,000, but King said the justice assistance grant is fully funded and won’t require matching funds from the city.

Mayor Kenny Weldon applauded the police chief for his ongoing and successful efforts in seeking out grants to help improve public safety without little-to-no impact on public funds.


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