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Reply #2: 1,662 ticketed by Bluff City traffic cameras, netting city $150K in fees [View All]

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doeriver Donating Member (677 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-22-10 07:43 AM
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2. 1,662 ticketed by Bluff City traffic cameras, netting city $150K in fees
Edited on Sat May-22-10 07:49 AM by doeriver
1,662 ticketed by Bluff City traffic cameras, netting city $150K in fees /
By MAC MCLEAN | Reporter / Bristol Herald Courier
Published: February 14, 2010

Earl Neikirk/Bristol Herald Courier
Drivers caught speeding by newly installed cameras in Bluff City will receive a violation notice like the one Bluff City Chief of Police David Nelson displays

PINEY FLATS, Tenn. Justin Hale was delivering a pizza in Bluff City nearly two weeks ago when he saw a bright flash in his rear-view mirror.

It scared me, Hale said Friday of one of two new speed cameras used by the Bluff City Police Department to monitor traffic speed along a stretch of U.S. Highway 11E. I was just like, Argghh, they got me.with my luck, thats how it is.

Hale, 21, delivers pizzas for Piney Pizza, a restaurant about a mile from the speed cameras.

He is one of almost 1,700 people who are the first to be cited for driving too fast through a 1.3-mile stretch of 11E that is a 45 mph zone. That number of citations went out during the first six weeks of the cameras operation.

Although the cameras went online in December, they began issuing citations on Jan. 1.

The stretch of highway monitored by the cameras starts about 200 yards in front of Pardners Bar-B-Que and Steak restaurant and ends at the Piney Flats crossroads.

And as the city sets out to collect the $150,000 worth of fines and court costs those citations could yield, those caught on camera will get a letter in the mail from an Arizona-based company that details the ticket and gives them a Web site address where they can pay the $90 fine, along with an 800 number for questions.

If people would observe the speed limit then we wouldnt have any problems, said Bluff City Police Chief David Nelson, who insists the cameras are about safety and claims a decrease in accidents on 11E as a result.

The cameras have drawn interest from more than just those being ticketed. During the same six-week period when the citations were issued, almost a dozen state legislators have sponsored bills in the Tennessee General Assembly designed to do away with the devices or severely limit their use.

This is clearly not the will of the people, Rep. Tony Shipley, R-Kingsport, said regarding the use of speed and red light cameras for traffic enforcement.

The devices have generated so much hatred among the states residents, Shipley said, theyd probably lose if people were given a choice between them and the dreaded state income tax.

Do they hate them? asked Hale, who took some consolation from the knowledge that he isnt the only one. I dont like them much, either.


Piney Flats

After a heated battle involving Bristol, Tenn., Johnson City and Sullivan County, Bluff City in 2000 annexed a 3.8-mile stretch of U.S. 11E that runs from the South Fork of the Holston River to the Piney Flats crossroads.

Over the past few years, theres been too many accidents there and far too many at high speed, Chief Nelson said, explaining the purpose behind the speed cameras in Piney Flats.

Wanting to reduce the number of crashes, Nelson made a strong push in December 2008 to install speed cameras in front of Pardners, where the speed limit drops from 55 mph to 45 mph at the start of a commercial zone.

As part of this push, Nelson repeatedly cited Mount Carmels success with the speed cameras and used a traffic study from Bristol, Tenn., Traffic Engineer David Metzger conducted at the highways 45 mph zone between Jan. 9 and Jan. 16, 2009.

Metzgers study found that 9 percent of the 114,991 cars and trucks that drove through the 45 mph zone that week were doing at least 55 mph, 143 of them were traveling at least 65 mph and 12 were doing at least 75 mph.

On April 10, the citys Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted 4-1 to allow the city to install the speed cameras on U.S. 11E. They also signed up with ATS to operate the speed cameras in exchange for $40 of every $90 the system generates.

The intent is not revenue, Mayor Todd Malone said then, countering concerns by city residents that the purpose behind the cameras was to generate new money.

The intent is to change driving habits on U.S. 11E, he said.

During a warning period from Dec. 2 to Jan. 1, the cameras issued nearly 2,300 warning citations to speeders.

But 1,493 real citations went to speeders in January and another 169 were issued during the first nine days of February.

In November, there were six vehicle accidents in the 45 mph zone of the section of 11E now monitored by Bluff Citys speed cameras, Nelson said.

There wasnt a single accident on that strip of highway in December and only two accidents there in January, he added.

(...more at hyperlink)
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