Norton officials pass use of speed camera to nab drivers in construction zone on I-76

NORTON, Ohio - A driver with a heavy foot along the I-76 construction zone in Norton will soon receive a $200 ticket without any interaction with a police officer.

During a Monday night meeting, Norton City Council members unanimously passed a plan by city officials to bust speeders by using DragonCam, speeding camera technology made by Blue Line Solutions.

Robert Fowler, the city administrator, said there has been a concerning trend along a six-mile stretch of I-76 in Norton since the Ohio Department of Transportation started a project to widen the highway by three lanes in each direction.

When the construction began in 2016, there were 83 accidents. That number jumped to 147 in 2017. In the first six months of 2018, 84 crashes have been reported on the same section of the highway.

"We are trying to do what we can to protect officers and also offer some safety to those traveling on 76," Fowler said. "It's a significant issue. We're on the highway at least three or four times a week for an accident."

Radar enforcement is difficult on I-76, especially eastbound where concrete barriers separate two lanes of traffic.

An officer will aim DragonCam from atop a bridge towards drivers on the expressway. The system records how fast drivers are going, and a camera also captures license plate numbers. Speeders will then be mailed a hefty ticket.

Fowler stressed the enforcement is temporary and is specific to the I-76 construction zone.

"There is some consternation about the whole process, but it's a very specific location. We can only use it on the highway during the construction, which should be over in the next two years," he said.

Sixty percent of the revenue will go to Norton. Fowler wouldn't estimate how much money could be generated, but said the cash will help pay for cruisers and school resource officers.

Norton resident Leah McSpadden is against the idea and said it feels like a speed trap.

"I understand it could be an accident-prone thing, but still, they shouldn't be able to set traps wherever they want," McSpadden said.

Brian Miles said he tries to avoid I-76 because of the construction and crashes. He has mixed feelings on speed cameras being used from bridges.

"A lot of people are going to look at it as a money grab, but a lot of people are going to look at it the other way, that it's a safety measure," Miles said. "That's a conundrum for the council to have to face."

The camera could be put into use within a few weeks.

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