Red light for traffic camera

In Hampshire: Concerns expressed about intersection enforcement tool

November 18, 2006

HAMPSHIRE -- The village board took an unenthusiastic view this week of a proposal to place traffic light enforcement cameras at the intersection of U.S. 20 and Interstate 90.

Mark Hammer of Traffipax came before the board to answer questions about the proposal. In an earlier meeting, the board discussed the possibility of installing cameras at the intersection, allowing the village to automatically ticket owners of vehicles that run red lights there.

Hammer billed the program as a cost-free solution to red light running for the village and cited the reduction of red light signal violators and fewer traffic accidents as being the main benefits.

"You will see a 40 to 60 percent reduction in red light running within six months," Hammer said.

The red light system would involve a photographic record of the violator's car crossing the intersection, a review process by the Hampshire Police Department and adjudication of the tickets at the local level.

Police Chief Tom Atchison said there had been only one accident at the intersection in the past year.

But Trustee Jim Taylor said there was an obvious flaw in the system.

"I don't like the idea that I borrow my car to someone and they run the light, I get the ticket," Taylor said.

Trustee Orris Ruth also felt the system was not warranted at this time due to the limited number of violations that occur in the area.

No action was taken on the proposal, but Ruth said the item may be reintroduced in the future.

In other business, the village is looking at joining up with other area municipalities to take bids on getting electrical power at a cheaper rate.

Village Attorney Mark Schuster said ComEd's planned 20 percent rate increase will take effect Jan. 1 if state legislators don't vote to extend the freeze in the remaining days of the General Assembly's fall veto session. He also told board members that the village spends $100,000 a year for electrical service for water and sewer services alone, and that the cooperative would not accept the bids if they come in over the projected rate increase.

Village Engineer Brad Sanderson said he has been made aware of concerns about electricity cooperatives and will present detailed information at the next board meeting.