Red-Light Di$trict$

This page contains my random thoughts. They could change frequently, or seldom, as my moods suggest, depending on news items or other events that motivate me and arouse my passions.

 

Photo By Ralph Duke

 

 

 

I’m sure you’ve heard by now that the City will be installing traffic cameras at six intersections to catch red-light runners. So far the major uproar has been the monthly cost of the traffic cameras and the utter failure of red-light cameras in Lubbock.

 

The terms of the contract stipulates that the City of Amarillo will pay American Traffic Solutions Inc. $4,750 per month for each camera. Yeah that’s correct! $28,500 per month for six traffic cameras and the contract term is for 60 months.

 

So this is where we break out the calculator: $4,750 per month per camera; $28,500 per month for six cameras; $342,000 per year; total expenditure for the 60 month contract $1.71 million dollars.

 

Scary? Fear not citizens of Amarillo, the city has an out clause. For a mere $1,800 per camera per month left in the contract. Well that’s not too bad, less than half cost of the camera.

 

$342,000 per year for six red-light cameras!!! Well get ready cause chances are great that a camera is coming to an intersection near you.

 

Don’t get hoodwinked by the monthly, yearly or even the total contract expenditure for the red-light cameras. The city has done their homework on the issue. Our commissioners know a cash cow when they see one. Even as Lubbock reconsiders red-light cameras due to the increased collisions at intersections that have cameras, it could be that our commissioners have seen the fabled golden goose.

 

ATS (American Traffic Solutions Inc.) recommended several city intersections for possible camera locations, and those locations were evaluated for red-light evaluations. The violations ranged from a high of 51 to a low of 10 based on two four hour video samplings taken during morning and evening rush hour periods.

 

Ok, let’s see if we can make the golden goose appear. The city red-light districts will be:

  • The intersection of Southeast Third and Pierce Street, southbound approach (50 violations)
  • Ross and Interstate 40 south frontage road, north bound approach (30 violations)
  • Pierce and Southeast 11th, southbound approach, (15 violations)
  • Coulter and Elmhurst, southbound and northbound approaches (22 violations)
  • Coulter and I-40 north frontage road, westbound approach (17 violations)

 

Here goosey, goosey!!

 

State law prohibits cities from using cameras that would show the driver of the vehicle running the red light, the offense would be considered a civil nuisance and not a criminal offense. In case you missed it, let’s give it a moment to soak in.

 

A RED-LIGHT CITATION DOES NOT COUNT AS A TRAFFIC TICKET!!!

 

The fine associated with a red-light citation is $75, a late fee of $25 will be accessed if you fail to pay the fine within 30 days.

 

Any sign of the golden egg? No??? Ok, let’s do some math.

 

traffic camerasSix red-light cameras yielding 132 violations per day at $75 per offense equal $297,000 per month. Inflate that amount by one year and you have more than $3.5 million dollars. Remember that measly $1.7 million 5 year contract that the city and ATS agreed upon. Looks like the city will have a windfall of $1.8 million dollars at the end of the contract.

 

WRONG!!!! We stopped calculating at one year. Still need to account for the other four years, so that brings the estimated revenue from six red-light cameras to a whopping $17.8 million dollars.

 

Well before we announce the sighting of the fabled golden egg. I’ll take a moment to answer those who are surely my critics; I hear them screaming even as I type “YOUR NUMBERS ARE OVER INFLATED”.

 

Ok, let’s reduce them. Can we agree that it is possible that six red-light cameras could catch at least 3 offenders at each intersection per day? That would make a total of 18 citations per day. Fair enough? No, don’t agree yet, I’m willing to reduce that number even more. How about this, 13 offenses per day, that’s less than 3 per intersection. Do we agree? Alright, you can nod your head yes now.

 

Here we go: 13 violations per day at $75 per offense equal $29,250 per month. Wait; hold on a second, what was the monthly cost of the cameras? I don’t know about you, but I’d lease six golden geese for $28,500 per month knowing they would nest a monthly windfall of $750.

 

Be not deceived, Amarillo commissioners have placed their bet on the number 13. Thirteen citations per day and the red-light cameras pay for themselves.

 

Will the gamble pay off in the long run? Do the math. I’ll give you a jump start: 24 hours per day; six red-light cameras; 1 citation per hour; 144 citations per day …

 

Who retains the golden eggs? City Manager Alan Taylor said that whatever money left over each month after the city pays ATS would go into a traffic safety trust fund that would be spent only to enhance traffic safety in the city, such as improvements at intersections or new traffic lights.

 

Would it be wrong of me to presume that the first improvement made at many intersections will be a red-light camera? Smile.

 

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