by William Holloman
The presence of state, county, and local law enforcement has been increased along the work zone areas of the U.S. Highway 117 Bypass in an effort to curb speeders.
The area from O’Berry Road south to the Duplin County line has seen beefed up enforcement by the North Carolina Highway Patrol, the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department, and Mount Olive Police.
Areas along that stretch include current construction work at O’Berry and Country Club Roads where overpasses are being constructed.
Country Club Road at 117 has been site of a number of serious wrecks, primarily blamed on excessive speeding.
The speed limit on the 117 bypass is 55 miles per hour and motorists are urged by flashing signs to slow down in the work zones.
A speeding violation in a work zone carries up to $250 in fines, plus court costs.
Town manager Charles Brown said the town has received and is dealing with a lot of concerns brought to their attention about the highway dangers.
He said most of the complaints have been focused on the construction at O’Berry Road and Country Club Road.
He said some have even asked why Mount Olive Police are patrolling that highway.
Brown addressed that issue, explaining the jurisdiction of the Mount Olive Police Department runs from a point just south of Country Club Road to the Duplin County line.
He said local police, along with the highway patrol and sheriff’s department, enforce speed limits and other issues along that stretch.
He said state, county, and town law enforcement will continue to be seen in an effort to slow down speeders and curb other highway traffic violations.
He said this is not “going away.”
“First of all, I don’t think you can have too much law enforcement out there, because of the number of traffic accidents we have seen and the excessive speeds of up to 88 and 90 mph have been documented. We have found drugs and stolen weapons.” The town manager said there is also a presence along the 117 bypass stretch around Mount Olive where some officers are actually in training for radar operation.
Officers must be certified to operate radar equipment and Brown said he wants as many officers as possible in the department to be certified.
Brown also told the Tribune the town asked the Department of Transportation for an increase in state and county law enforcement help because of accident concerns.
“Our intent is to prevent people from having accidents, because of high and unlawful speeding. We want to stop accidents that cause injury and even death and motorists can look for the enforcement efforts to continue.”