MENDOTA HEIGHTS, Minn. — If you think you can speed through Mendota Heights unnoticed, think again. You might even receive a letter in the mail to prove it.
Digital speedometers along Marie Avenue West tell drivers their speed, just like Tom Hastings from his driveway. Thirty miles an hour is a pace he would prefer, but doesn’t always see.
“It’s sometimes a racetrack, 50-60 [mph]“, Hastings said.
His concerns, and those of his neighbors, are something the police department knows well.
“In Mendota Heights, we get a lot of complaints, like this, about traffic,” Capt. Wayne Wegener said, as a car sped by along Marie Avenue West amid his sentence.
That’s why they’ve rolled out a new speed trailer along the road that not only alerts drivers to the speed they’re driving, but also takes pictures of the license plates of those who go way over the limit when they pass.
“Seizure of license plates allows us to contact the registered owners of the vehicles to warn them that they were speeding,” he said.
The speed limit on Marie Avenue West is 30 miles per hour. A digital speedometer on the trailer tells drivers their approaching speed. It is programmed to start flashing if they exceed the limit. It will then turn red if they reach 40mph or more, triggering the camera to take five photos of the license plate as they pass.
The car owner will then receive a letter in the mail informing them that the driver has been caught speeding. It shares the location and time of the violation, as well as the cost of the fine if a citation had been issued. The price range is $125 to $275.
Captain Wegener says the owner of the car is often not the person who was driving.
“We had a few parents call us back and thank us for the information,” he said with a smile.
The public can also see the collected data in real time via a website. It shows how many cars passed the trailer and the average speed of 85% of them. The average was around 38 mph Thursday night. This data will help police determine if in-person speed limit enforcement is necessary.
“We were here last night once they increased the speed and there were people crossing at 49 or 50 mph,” Hastings said. “They didn’t hit any stoplights when they saw it.”
Many other drivers, however, slowed down when seeing their speed on Thursday.
“I think it’s a good first step,” Hastings said.
Captain Wegener said almost 40 warnings had already been issued to drivers. The fast trailer will spend about a week on each street before moving on to other areas of concern.