Ames Slowing Motorists Without Red Light, Speed Cameras

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AMES, Iowa -- The City of Ames has addressed problems of excessive speed in the city, not with a speed trap or ticketing cameras, but with something called dynamic feedback signs.

The signs track each vehicles' speed and display it below the road's posted speed limit. This is viewed as a gentle reminder to slow down in residential and one business neighborhoods in Ames.

Residents near Mary Greeley Medical Center approached the city about doing something to slow cars on Duff Avenue, many who were waiting for a train and sped past the 9th Street and Duff Avenue intersection.

The dynamic feedback signs are looked at as a solution. Each set of signs at a street location costs around $10,000.

“As an engineer you always say the last resort is enforcement,” said Damain Pregitzer, the city's traffic engineer. “So that’s why we didn’t go with the red light running, or the speed camera.”

Pregitzer said he plans to see more of this type of sign in Ames, but he said "never say never” when it comes to red light or speed cameras. He does not expect those unpopular types of speed control to come to Ames.

"Most people just get distracted, so we put up these types of signs to tell you what your speed is, rather than saying you get a ticket in the mail," Pregitzer added.

Citizen groups approached the city about the Duff Avenue sign, and the Somerset Association also met with the city over concern about speed and pedestrian safety. In Somerset, more cross walk signs were also installed along with the dynamic speed signs.

Signs are also located on Hayes Avenue, near Ames High School, and on Jewell Drive in south Ames.

“I think at least having the sign there as a reminder makes a big difference so that people are at least aware,” said Calie Van Zwol, of Finesse Spa and Salon in Somerset. "I think your head gets done with work, and you’re just going that way, it kind of pops in there and reminds you."

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