Red light cameras getting closer

Published 11:24 pm Wednesday, May 12, 2010

SELMA — City council members haven’t taken a vote yet, but cameras on selected signal lights in the city can’t be far away.

Council president Cecil Williamson assigned the results of a study conducted by Public Strategies LLC of Montgomery to the council public safety committee Monday night. The committee chairman is Councilman Sam Randolph of Ward 5.

The committee would study those results and make a decision about the city obtaining the cameras.

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Recently, Public Strategies installed some cameras at select locations provided by the Selma Police Department. The sites were chosen based on accident and traffic data. Twenty locations were chosen.

“You’ll be amazed what’s going on in the city with those cameras,” said Mayor George Evans.

For example, Public Strategies placed a camera for 11 hours covering the westbound lane of J.L. Chestnut Jr. Boulevard and Franklin Street. The results: 77 people ran stop signals.

At the northbound land of Broad Street at Water Avenue for 11 hours and 37 minutes, 69 people were photographed running a red light.

Graham L. Champion, chairman of the company, recommended based on the results of the March test runs the city place cameras in both lanes of J.L. Chestnut Jr. Boulevard and Franklin Street, both lanes of Broad Street and Water Avenue, both lanes of Broad Street and L.L. Anderson, and at Citizens Parkway and Woodrow Avenue in the northbound lane.

Maybe sites are Hopper Drive and Dallas Avenue in the westbound lane, Highland Avenue and Range Street in the eastbound lane and Citizens Parkway and Woodrow Avenue in the southbound lane.

Graham said in about six months the city would see about a 50 percent reduction in signal light runners.

He recommends installing 10 cameras in the beginning.

“Typically the cost to the city will be very, very low,” Graham said.

Basic costs would include electricity for the cameras, a police officer to review the photographs and sign off on them and the cost of municipal court, which could be added to the fine.

The company would pay for the equipment, processing and servicing, Graham said.

“It’s a user paid service,” he said. “Those who violate the law are paying for it.”

Once the city decides to implement the cameras, the public will be given 30 days notice, Evans said.