By Leigh Armstrong
In response to complaints of speeding on State Street, Skagway police put up an electronic speed-tracking sign near the Garden City RV Park that displays miles per hour. They put up the sign the week of June 20; it was still in place July 8.
The police selected the location on the road in and out of town, near 15th Avenue, so the unit could clock the most drivers, Police Chief Ray Leggett said.
Though some people have complained of speeders, the chief said the problem may be exaggerated.
All police vehicles in Skagway are equipped with radar that can track vehicles in front or behind the squad car, Leggett said. But writing a lot of tickets is not how the chief wants to run things. “We try to create an environment where we don’t write tickets,” he said.
It’s more about creating an environment where people are encouraged not to speed or break other municipal laws, Leggett said.
The public has raised concerns about traffic safety in past borough assembly meetings. Some people have pointed to the section where Spring Street turns into 5th Avenue as an area that buses speed through. Turns on the narrow road, near the Moore Homestead, are tighter than in other areas of Skagway. The Moore Homestead is National Park land and the narrow street cannot easily be changed.
A petition to add a crosswalk on State Street by 6th Avenue was signed by over 100 Skagway residents in 2015, but the request was turned down by the Alaska Department of Transportation.
As for whether buses are speeding, Leggett has been keeping an eye on them and thinks it may come down to their size. With the bigger buses going 25 miles per hour, they look like they’re going a lot faster, Leggett said.
The speed-tracking unit appears to be doing its job. The Skagway News went out on July 5 and watched for a couple of hours as 13 vehicles approached the speed tracker at over 25 miles per hour but all slowed to the required speed before passing the unit on the side of the road.