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Thousands of tickets written, but not the goal for local Georgia State Patrol post

Sgt. 1st Class James Warren, the commander for Post 51 Gwinnett in Duluth, talks about the impact the presence of State Troopers in the county has made.


Sgt. 1st Class James Warren the post commander for Post 51 Gwinnett in Duluth is among the 35 troopers of the Georgia State Patrol who have been working to alleviate traffic congestion on I-85 in Gwinnett County. Sgt. 1st Class Warren uses a radar gun to gather the miles per hour speed readings of passing motorists on I-85 Thursday. (Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan)

Sgt. 1st Class James Warren the post commander for Post 51 Gwinnett in Duluth is among the 35 troopers of the Georgia State Patrol who have been working to alleviate traffic congestion on I-85 in Gwinnett County. Sgt. 1st Class Warren uses a radar gun to gather the miles per hour speed readings of passing motorists on I-85 Thursday. (Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan)

BY THE NUMBERS

The Georgia State Patrol opened Post 51 in Gwinnett in April. Through October, troopers had accrued the following statistics while primarily patrolling Interstate 85 and 985.

• Citations: 13,599

• Warnings: 19,601

• Traffic stops: 24,729

• Wrecks worked: 1,577

•DUI arrests: 48

Fines from GSP citations go to local departments

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Sgt. 1st Class James Warren, center, the post commander for Post 51 Gwinnett poses for a portrait with fellow troopers of the Georgia State Patrol Trooper Jacob Bullock, Cpl. Auston Allen, Sgt. Shane Allen and Trooper 1st Class Jeff Cunningham outside their Duluth post Thursday. (Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan)

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Sgt. 1st Class James Warren of the Georgia State Patrol runs the license of a motorist he stopped for speeding Thursday on I-85. (Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan)

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Sgt. 1st Class James Warren, the commander for Post 51 Gwinnett in Duluth, is among the 35 troopers of the Georgia State Patrol who have been working to alleviate traffic congestion on Interstate 85 in Gwinnett County. Warren uses a radar gun to gather the miles per hour speed readings of passing motorists Thursday on I-85. (Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan)

DULUTH — Georgia State Patrol Post 51 opened in April, renewing the agency’s permanent Gwinnett County presence. Through October, its troopers had written 13,599 traffic citations.

Primarily accrued while patrolling local stretches of interstates 85 and 985, that’s roughly 59 citations per day. According to officials, though, that’s not the larger goal.

“We really try to give the public a sort of relief from it,” Post 51 Sgt. Thomas Kustra said. “The ones that need it get it, the ones that don’t usually get a warning.”

Kustra said the agency generally strives for a 2:1 warning-to-citation ratio, and over the initial seven month stretch issued 19,601 official warnings in Gwinnett — a ratio closer to 1.4:1.

Kustra said enforcement out of his post “has been great,” but, again, that wasn’t necessarily the goal.

All along, GSP and state Department of Transportation officials have stressed that the new post off Pleasant Hill Road in Duluth was to help ease traffic by responding to crashes more quickly, getting them out of the roadway and reducing subsequent crashes caused by rubberneckers.

Whether you subscribe to that theory of traffic reduction or not, Kustra said response times have been excellent. He said the goal was for an average eight-minute response to interstate crashes — they were closer to six minutes through October.

“We’ve already exceeded what they wanted so far,” he said. “I think our presence has really stopped the amount of crashes and secondary crashes, and helped as far as keeping the roadway going.”

Georgia DOT spokeswoman Natalie Dale said the state compiles dozens of metrics to weigh the ultimate success of initiatives like this one. She said short-term data doesn’t account for things like a rainy summer and an increase in overall traffic (number of cars) since last August.

For instance, morning rush hour traffic on I-85 between Beaver Ruin and Old Peachtree roads has increased threefold since August 2012. Average incident clearance times over that stretch have gone from 27 to 32 minutes, but average speed has actually increased.

Over that same timeframe, morning rush hour clearance time from Interstate 285 to Beaver Ruin Road decreased from 34 to 21 minutes.

In short, Dale said, it’s too soon for a definitive answer.

“Is it working?” she said. “I think it’s a little too early to know the extent of the benefit, but we have definitely seen in many cases benefit to them being around.”

Video

Georgia State Patrol in Gwinnett

Sgt. 1st Class James Warren, the commander for Post 51 Gwinnett in Duluth, talks about the impact the presence of State Troopers in the county has made.

Sgt. 1st Class James Warren, the commander for Post 51 Gwinnett in Duluth, talks about the impact the presence of State Troopers in the county has made.

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