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Lathrop lowers speed limit on Harlan Road
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The Lathrop City Council has lowered the speed limit on a large section of Harlan Road.

And unlike the last time that they lowered a speed limit, the council listened to the input from Lathrop Police Services – giving the officers the ability to use radar and LIDAR to enforce the new speeds.

With little deliberation the council voted 3-1 on Monday night – with Councilman Paul Akinjo dissenting and Councilwoman Martha Salcedo absent – to drop the speed limit on Harlan Road from 50 miles per hour down to 45 miles per hour.

The decline isn’t tremendously significant – unlike when they slashed the speed limit on Lathrop Road from 50 all the way down to 35 as the road passes through the heart of town and past residential driveways.

But this time around the change is in conjunction with the recently completed speed survey that will allow tickets written using popular speed enforcement tools to stand up in court.

Out of roughly 1,000 cars that were surveyed driving Harlan Road in the two sections that were designated – from Lathrop Road to Slate Street and from Slate Street to Roth Road – at least 85 percent were traveling between 43 and 48 miles per hour. The recommendations are typically based on the 85th percentile of observed vehicle speeds, though things like vehicle volumes, speed data, accident history, land uses and the proximity of schools, railroads and parks can also be used.

Akinjo asked no questions during the brief exchange that the council had with Lathrop Police Traffic Officer Matt Lindemann – a period that was dominated by Councilman Omar Ornelas’ line of inquiry that compared the speed limit decline on Louise Avenue, which is not in conjunction with a speed survey, to what was before the council Monday night.

According to Lindemann, speed enforcement is next to impossible unless tools like radar and LIDAR are available. Most courts, he said, require that a vehicle be paced for at least a mile in order for an accurate speed to be recorded and that’s very hard to do in Lathrop, he said, because the community isn’t that large.

Pacing a vehicle for a mile on that small stretch of Harlan Road, he said, would be particularly difficult.

He told Ornelas that when he is seen on roadways where speed enforcement isn’t allowed, his presence alone can act as a deterrent. He’s also on the lookout for people talking on their cell phones or making other traffic infractions that can be enforced.

An ordinance that amends the Lathrop Municipal Code relating to that section of roadway will have to be introduced and then approved over the course of two meetings before the changes can go into effect.