LITTLEVILLE — Mayor Scott Howard said police will begin strictly enforcing the speed limit through town beginning in August.
"We're going to a no-tolerance speed limit," Howard said.
Town officials made the decision after being notified by the Alabama Department of Transportation that it would not reduce the 65 mph speed limit through town.
What that means is anyone driving over 65 mph through the roughly two miles of U.S. 43 that passes through the town is liable to be stopped and ticketed. Howard said "65 means 65."
"We're going to have to slow them down," he said. "It's getting like the Indy 500 when they come through here."
The rural Colbert County town between Tuscumbia and Russellville has been trying for years to get the Transportation Department to reduce the 65 mph speed limit to at least 55 mph.
Julie Sandlin, a traffic engineer in the Transportation Department's Tuscumbia Area Office, said traffic studies along U.S. 43 in Littleville did not warrant reducing the speed limit.
She suggested the city use "enforcement" to reduce the speed of vehicles, many of which were traveling over the 65 mph speed limit.
Howard said the Police Department has one part-time and three full-time officers, but is trying to find another full-time officer.
Police Chief Chris Joly said there are drivers who believe they're allowed by law to run up to 8 mph over the speed limit, which is not the case. Many officers give drivers leeway due to differences in speedometers, tire sizes, the time of day and traffic conditions, he said.
"We're going to show a presence and try and slow everybody down," Joly said.
The chief said he ran his own traffic study on about 40 vehicles. Two of the vehicles were clocked at speeds over 75, and just three were driving below 65. The rest were driving between 65 and 70 mph, he said.
Joly wanted to know how many drivers in the Transportation Department's study were driving over 70 mph.
He said he has encountered drivers running 85 to 90 mph, but those are rare.
The police chief added if an officer sits in one place too long, drivers will flash their lights, warning other drivers of his presence.
If the Transportation Department set the speed limit at 55 mph, people most likely would drive closer to 65 mph, Joly said.
Councilman Don Pennington said he hasn't talked with the mayor about the effort, but likes the idea.
"What people need to understand is the speed limit is 65, not 85," Pennington said. "They think they can come through here wide open, and if we stop them we're a speed trap."
Pennington said if getting a reputation as a speed trap sends the message the town will not tolerate speeding, then it's worth it.
He points out that the speed limit falls to 45 mph just outside Russellville.
Howard said there is "bumper to bumper" traffic on U.S. 43 in the morning and afternoon hours, especially between 4:30 and 6 p.m., with vehicles dodging in and out of traffic.
"We want to give everybody a fair warning," Howard said. "We want to let people know we're going to strictly enforce it. I'll have people mad at me, but this is more important."