Officers hand out $30,000 in citations in two days to drivers ignoring "road closed" sign

Drivers say the roadblock is confusing

LAKELAND, Fla. - A partial road closure is leaving some drivers in Lakeland totally frustrated.

Last week, construction crews shutdown the eastbound lane of Old Combee Road in North Lakeland, but many drivers are ignoring the "road closed" signs.

After getting complaints, Lakeland Police posted officers near the roadblock last Thursday and Friday. In just two days, they handed out nearly 190 tickets to drivers going around the barricade.

That translates to more than $30,000.

"I understand that writing citations is unpopular, but we are concerned with public safety," said Lt. Al Wilson with Lakeland Police.  "It is a serious matter, serious injury can result."

Before drivers get to the last barricade, they pass at least two other signs that say "road closed ahead". For those who ignore the warnings, they're forced to make a somewhat U-turn at the last barricade.

Even riskier is the decision to go around the barricade and into oncoming traffic.

"To give somebody a ticket where they're stuck in the mess, and now they have to make U-turn, which is not a good thing either. It's not fair at all," said Craig Conibear, one of many frustrated drivers.

Some of the tickets went to drivers who attempted to cut through an apartment complex parking lot. They have since put up barricades of their own.

The police department plans to meet with construction crews to see if anything can be done to help drivers, but it stands by the decision to hand out tickets.

"They're on pedestals in the middle of the road," Lt. Wilson said. "I don't think you can be any more clear."

He said the engineers chose to leave the westbound lane of traffic open to all traffic primarily to make it easier for first responders so they don't have to take a long detour.

Perhaps the best news for inpatient drivers is Old Combee Road will reopen within a couple of days.

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