Drivers hit with pricey tickets call long Brookside construction zone a poorly marked 'money grab'
Winnipeg traffic ticket fighter says he received hundreds of complaints about tickets in July
Some Winnipeg-area drivers are speaking up about hefty speeding tickets given out in a construction zone they say is poorly marked and unfairly long.
"I don't believe it's about safety. I believe it's a money grab, and I don't appreciate it," said David de Meulles, who got a photo radar ticket while driving south on Brookside Boulevard, between Inkster Boulevard and Mollard Road — just south of the Perimeter Highway — on July 24.
The stretch of road, where the speed limit is normally 90 kilometres per hour, is currently a designated construction zone, as private contractors employed by the rural municipality of Rosser install sewer and water services for the CentrePort area.
But de Meulles said when he was ticketed, he'd missed the sign advising drivers of the reduced 60 km/h speed limit because it was only posted on one side of the road, blocked from his vision by the rush hour traffic.
Len Eastoe, who owns Traffic Ticket Experts in Winnipeg, says he's received many complaints from drivers dinged in the same spot over the past few weeks. The fines start around $300 or $400, but one driver was ordered to pay a total of $2,400 in tickets, issued three days in a row and sent by mail.
Eastoe, a former police officer, said Wednesday afternoon he hadn't seen the area himself so he couldn't speak to the validity of the claims — but the number of complaints suggests there could be a problem.
"There's a lot of people who are missing [the signs]," Eastoe said. "It says to me that it's not signed properly, and they should be making extra effort to notify people of that zone."
'Creating a safety hazard'
When CBC News visited the site Wednesday afternoon, numerous bright-coloured signs warned of construction and noted the reduced limit.
But de Meulles and other drivers said that wasn't the case when they got their tickets.
Timothy Kroeker got a ticket for $391 on July 18. He said he missed the first sign about the reduced limit because he was focused on changing lanes to make space for a vehicle he saw parked on the shoulder.
Based on photos and footage of the spot he's seen posted on social media, he now believes that vehicle was the photo radar enforcement officer — and he says it's dangerous for workers to park along busy highways without signage.
"First and foremost, I'd say where they're parking and what they're doing is creating a safety hazard for others," he said. "That's causing confusion, and it's causing people to miss safety signs."
Const. Jay Murray, a spokesperson for the Winnipeg Police Service, said in an email Wednesday photo radar vehicles are permitted to park in no-stopping zones under City of Winnipeg parking bylaws.
Kroeker and de Meulles both said they plan to fight their tickets.
'Sour taste in my mouth'
In hundreds of comments on a handful of Facebook posts about the fines, drivers raised concerns about the size of the construction zone compared to the actual work being done.
Kroeker said the place he was ticketed was about 1½ kilometres from the spot where construction began.
"There was not a safety concern to workers," Kroeker said. "It leaves a real sour taste in my mouth."
A spokesperson for the City of Winnipeg said according to Manitoba's Highway Traffic Act, fines for speeding in construction zones are applied whether or not there are workers or equipment present.
"When a municipality applies for a [designated construction zone], they indicate their construction timeline, and we place the signage for the specified timeframe," the spokesperson wrote in an email. If signs need to be moved or removed early, the municipality is responsible for alerting the city, she said.
Frances Smee, the reeve of the rural municipality of Rosser, said in an email the construction in the area is expected to be complete by late fall.