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Speeders on new I-74 bridge could get busted from above

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In coming weeks and months, state police intend to crack down on excessive speed on the new Interstate 74 bridge between Bettendorf and Moline.

Illinois State Police this year asked the Iowa and Illinois departments of transportation to place aerial speed-enforcement markings on the surface of the Illinois-bound span, said George Ryan, I-74 corridor manager.

The horizontal lines that were painted in October will be used by police-manned aircraft to measure vehicles' speed, calculating the time it takes motorists to travel between between them, said Illinois State Police Trooper Josh Robinson.

"We use a stop watch to time the vehicle as it travels between three lines," Robinson said. "Each of the lines are 660 feet apart.

"An example of the calculation used is: If a vehicle travels between the lines through the zone in 5.4 seconds, the corresponding speed is 83.33 mph."

Illinois State Police personnel onboard an ISP-owned aircraft then communicate details about offending vehicles to troopers staged along the bridge corridor, he said.

"Troopers work on scene along with the airplane," Robinson said. "Violations are called out to the troopers who then initiate a traffic stop. Citations are handled/issued accordingly."

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While it would be possible to police to conduct radar-based speed enforcement from the roadside, using aerial detection is safer, he said. Aerial speed enforcement is used in multiple locations throughout Illinois.

For the departments of transportation, Ryan said, the request to accommodate I-74 speed enforcement was an easy sell.

"Motorist safety is the top priority of the Illinois and Iowa departments of transportation, and the departments frequently work with law enforcement to monitor and address such situations, regarding speeding," Ryan said.

The DOT and police have issued warnings to the motoring public that excessive speeding on the bridge is dangerous for all. Though the new bridge is much wider than the old I-74, it is not immune to winter freezing and other hazards.

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