Luverne police monitors flow of spring break traffic

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Spring Break has officially arrived and despite what most people may think the traffic headed south on Highway 331 and through Luverne isn't that big of a problem, said police chief Paul Allen.

"It's when they start to come back when the problems start to occur," said Allen.

Allen said during Spring Break the traffic weekdays, even Friday, is manageable. But a majority of travelers all seem to choose the exact same day to make their return trip:


"Sunday is our main issue," he said. "The traffic flow is better going down then it is coming back. On Sundays, where it really gets bad, is down close to the Chicken Shack. That's where it tends to 'bottleneck' because you have the two lanes merging into the one. There's typically some congestion down there."

When traffic is backed up, said Allen, is also the most likely condition for accidents to occur.

"It's usually minor accidents because most of the traffic has slowed to a crawl and the cars are so close together," he said.

Long beloved by college students as an annual rite-of-passage, thousands of young adults and teenagers head towards waves and warmer weather as universities across the nation break for the winter to spring passage. Highway 331 South is a major artery to the Gulf Coast beaches of Northern Florida. It's not uncommon for downtown patrons to look out of a storefront window and see car tags from Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, or Minnesota from Spring Break's beginning to its end.

And end that won't come until April, said Allen, since colleges don't all follow the same schedule as to when Spring Break occurs.

Allen said to alleviate some of the traffic strain on the weekends he will be putting an extra patrol officer on duty next Sunday.

"His main job will be keep traffic at the north light on Forest Ave. moving in case it comes to a stop," said Allen.

Allen said the Luverne Police Department would monitor the traffic for speeding and other violations.

"That's our job," he said. "We're not treating this as any big problem that we need to be on guard for. It will all fall under our duty of patrolling the city streets and ensuring safety for everyone."

During Spring Break, Allen said he estimates that 90 percent of the traffic that comes through Luverne does so without committing a violation. He also said traffic stops on a traveler driving under the influence of alcohol is rare.

"We're very lucky here in Luverne in that everything is either above us or below us, geographically speaking," he said.