Traffic cameras get green light in St. Peters
By Tim Bryant
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
A divided board of aldermen authorized installation of an automated camera system at about six busy intersections to catch motorists running red lights.
At a meeting Thursday night, aldermen voted 5-3 to proceed with the installation. By a 6-2 vote, aldermen passed an ordinance directing City Administrator Bill Charnisky to negotiate a contract with Redflex Traffic Systems Inc. to install and operate the system. A firm date for the system's operation has yet to be set.
Alderman Jerry Hollingsworth, the system's main backer, said cameras that catch red-light runners are the same, in principle, as surveillance cameras businesses use to identify robbers.
"I think you surrender your privacy issues when you break the law," Hollingsworth said.
Alderman Bruce Holt, who voted against the ordinance, said, "I still think we're talking 'Big Brother' stuff."
Also voting no were aldermen Len Pagano and Patrick Barclay, who said two-thirds of those who contacted him opposed the cameras. After voting against authorizing the system, Pagano voted for an ordinance providing for Redflex to operate the system.
In the system, a vehicle entering an intersection against a red light activates the camera to take a photo of the vehicle's license plate and, in some cases, the driver as well. A ticket is then mailed to the vehicle's owner.
In St. Peters, Redflex will collect a varying percentage of the fines paid, depending on the number of tickets issued.
Temporary sign rules
Aldermen also discussed new regulations on the size of temporary roadside signs, especially those related to political campaigns. Hollingsworth called large political signs along residential streets "horribly obnoxious."
He said he wants to restrict the signs to 4 square feet in residential areas and 16 square feet in commercial areas. The proposed sizes are considerably smaller than those the city allows now.
Randy Weber, the city's attorney, said he would study legal issues related to such restrictions and report back to the board.
"I really feel we need some direction here," said Pagano, who raised the issue.
Barclay also sought a speed-limit reduction for McClay Road between Jungermann and Thoele roads. He said limited sight distances from side street intersections merit a reduction to 30 mph from 35 mph. But Tim Myers, a city engineer, said McClay's design is suitable for the current speed limit, adding that neither speeding nor sight distance were related to the three traffic accidents reported in the area in the past three years.
Barclay got little support for the speed-limit reduction but persuaded aldermen to agree to consider putting up "no tolerance" signs warning motorists that police will strictly enforce the current speed limit.