Steamboat Springs With the rollout of new digital speed signs, the town of Hayden has entered a new era of traffic control.
The two new signs installed last week on U.S. Highway 40 already are slowing down motorists driving through the town's residential zone. And soon, Hayden's police department will be able to tap into the signs to see how many cars travel through town and how many of them were speeding.
“I've already seen them make a difference,” Hayden Police Chief Gordon Booco said Monday as he watched traffic coast by one of the new signs that displays how fast drivers are going as they approach downtown Hayden.
The presence of the new sign coupled with the police chief's temporary presence at the side of the road motivated drivers to comply with the 30-mph speed limit that starts near the Hayden Mercantile.
“It's sitting there blinking at you until you slow down,” Booco said about the sign. “And sure enough, when drivers see it, the brake lights come on and they get slowed down sooner.”
At more than one Hayden Town Council meeting, Booco has advocated for finding a way to slow down motorists traveling along the highway.
The police chief said he doesn't think many motorists speed through Hayden intentionally.
But with the shift of speed limits on the approach to town going quickly from 65 mph to 45 mph to 30 mph, Booco said officers regularly find motorists entering town well above the speed limit.
He added that as the new signs change driver behavior, they will allow his officers to focus their patrols elsewhere.
The town invested $8,877 in the two solar-powered signs that were installed last week by the Colorado Department of Transportation and the town's Public Works Department.
Booco said officers give mostly warnings to motorists who are caught driving 5 to 9 mph over the speed limit through town. He said police most commonly cite motorists for going 10 to 19 mph over the limit. That ticket carries a $135 fine and adds four points against a driver's license.
“I really think these signs will be a big benefit to the community,” Booco said. “This isn't a good stretch of highway to have people driving 45 to 50 miles an hour on."
To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com