City moving toward red light cameras

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By Alice Du Pont

The Quincy City Commission, during the regular Feb. 14 meeting approved the selection of American Traffic Solutions to complete the installation of the Red Light Traffic Camera Safety Program. The first four intersection for the cameras have been identified and are: West Jefferson St. at Pat Thomas Parkway westbound, West Jefferson at S. Cleveland Street westbound,  West Jefferson at Adams Street westbound and West Jefferson Street at Adams Street eastbound.
    Commissioner Larry Edwards requested by a motion that Chief Walt McNeil look into the red light cameras late last year because, he said, he has seen to many close calls.
    "I am opposed to this and always have been," said Mayor Derrick Elias, who said he thought when Commissioner Edwards brought up the issue, it was a "joke."
    Commissioner Andy Gay said he remembers the issue being raised at a meeting but wanted to know how it went from a comment several months ago to consideration for adoption by the commission and a company selected through the bid process.
    "We have absolutely no data. I don't think we've gotten to the point where we have that many red light runners," Elias said.
    "I wouldn't be making this recommendation if I didn't feel it was in the best interest of the citizens," McNeil said.
    After a competitive bid process the company selected was American Traffic Solutions. McNeil said that while the company was not the least expensive he felt the company offered better technology, possessed a level of experience consistent with red light systems similar to the needs of Quincy and has a superior understanding of the traffic issues in Quincy. Also, the company has a (satellite repair) office in Tallahassee and they are most likely not to be challenged in court.
    McNeil said the red light cameras will not cost the city any money because they are violator driven. Funds from the first three violation each day will go to the company. Then, funds from every other citation will go to the city. Under the planned agreement, ATS is required to install and maintain the system. each intersection identified is equipped with automated red light safety camera equipment that includes a digital still camera and a digital video camera installed near the roadway. The system is triggered when the vehicle enters an intersection after the light changes to red. ATS then checks the violation of validity, such as no funeral or police escort.
    A designated officer then determines if the violation deserves a notice of violation. ATS then mails a notice of violation from City Hall to the violator. The notice shows the red light before the vehicle enters the intersection, the vehicle inside the intersection and the license plate. The violator may enter a PIN code and watch a 12 second video clip of the violation. The violator then mails the payment or pays online.
    it could be 6 to 8 months before the cameras are installed and ready for use.
    In other business:
    • Commissioners voted not to spend nearly $50,000 to keep the Quincy Shuttle, a low cost transportation system, going. Instead, they voted to plant $30,000 worth of grass Corry Football Field. Other funds, of an undetermined amount,  will be used to re-sod the baseball field beginning in about 9 months.
    The Gadsden County Board of Commissioners discussed the issue during the Feb. 7 meeting and decided to hold off until the City of Quincy made a decision o whether to fund the project. Federal budget cuts left the service lacking about $100,000. The system, which charges customers 50 cents per fare covers a 16 mile loop around Quincy with stops at major service providers including grocery stores, the post office and doctor's offices.
    "In my opinion Corry Field will be here. I would rather see the money used for the shuttle service and not for grass," said Mayor Derrick Elias.
    "How many people use this service? Before I make a decision, I would like to know who uses it," Commissioner Larry Edwards said.
    But work is scheduled to begin on the football field Feb. 20 and the board doesn't meet again until Feb. 28.
    "Whatever is in the plan, let's continue," suggested Commissioner Keith Dowdell.