traffic cams like this one in Springfield, OH, are widely used in both the US and Europe
The corner of Clearview Pkwy and Veterans Blvd. in Metarie has long been a mess. A few years back, it was on both State Farm's and Allstate's lists of top ten dangerous intersections in the US. Major renovations to the design of the intersection were made, and video cameras were installed to enforce traffic laws.
Now, Parish Councilman Chris Roberts wants to shut the cameras down because of the structure of the support contract:
Jefferson Parish's stop-light camera program, which has generated millions of dollars for public services while proving to be a nemesis for thousands of drivers, halted Wednesday at 3 p.m. on orders from the Parish Council.
The council approved a resolution from member Chris Roberts to suspend the program amid disclosures that the contractor, Redflex Traffic Systems of Phoenix, Ariz., plans to direct about 3.2 percent of its share of the traffic fines to lobbyist Bryan Wagner, a former New Orleans City Council member who helped Redflex get the contract.
(more after the jump)
Roberts is upset that Wagner (who is mentor to many Republicans in Orleans Parish, including CongressCritter Cao) is making so much money off of traffic fines:
"Had some of these things been disclosed out front, I think the vote would have gone differently" to award Redflex the contract, Roberts said. "It was sold to us on the basis of public safety. We've since learned it's very lucrative."
Perhaps Councilman Roberts should take a deep breath for a moment and consider why the contract is so lucrative. What's the source of revenue? Traffic fines. Why is Wagner making money? Because the people of Jefferson Parish drive like assholes.
I live four blocks from this intersection. While my observations are strictly anecdotal, the combination of the intersection re-design and the traffic cameras has dramatically improved safety. You'd see a bad wreck in the middle of this intersection once a week, now, not so much. People would floor it to make a yellow light; now the light goes yellow and they stop. Overall, the system works.
What needs to be done is to hold serious hearings by a Council committee (or perhaps the entire council) on tweaking the intersection. Involve traffic engineers, let drivers be heard, etc.
That's how government works. Shutting down something that's improving safety because you don't like that someone's making a profit is throwing the baby out with the bath water.