Eureka City Council approves traffic safety grants: Funding will aid in DUI patrols, exclusive road enforcement

The Eureka City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday to approve two traffic safety grants that will increase traffic enforcement throughout the city.

"I'm excited to have the opportunity to have more officers on the streets focusing primarily on traffic enforcement and collision reduction," Eureka Police Department Senior Traffic Officer Gary Whitmer said.

The grants, totaling more than $100,000, will allow the department to enforce speeding, unsafe lane changes and the running of red lights and stop signs -- all factors that lead to crashes, according to Whitmer. Distracted driving enforcement and DUI patrols will also be conducted.

With the funds, the department will also be able to purchase DUI checkpoint equipment, and target people who have multiple outstanding DUI warrants.

The money will also fund overtime shifts exclusively dedicated to traffic enforcement.

Eureka ranked in the top 10 for fatal, pedestrian and bicycle collisions out of 93 similarly-sized cities in 2010, the most recent data available, according to the California Office of Traffic Safety.

The council also voted unanimously, with Councilman Chet Albin recusing himself because he used to be a Planning Commission member, to deny an appeal of the Planning Commission's decision to give McDonald's a permit to redevelop its property after holding a public hearing. The existing drive-through restaurant will be demolished, and a new one will be built.

The council will meet again on Feb. 4 for its regularly scheduled meeting.

Lorna Rodriguez can be reached at 441-0506 or Follow her on Twitter @LornaARodriguez.