Oak Ridge, TN

A city ordinance approved this week would allow Oak Ridge to issue traffic tickets for violations caught on red-light and speed-enforcement cameras.

City Council members approved the ordinance on second and final reading on Monday, with Council member David Mosby casting the lone dissenting vote.

The city staff is currently reviewing proposals from vendors interested in operating the cameras in Oak Ridge.

Three residents spoke out against the proposed cameras on Monday, particularly the red-light cameras, questioning the city's need for them and their potential impact on driver safety.

"What is the problem you're trying to solve?" asked Oak Ridge resident Fred Childress, a Council candidate in 2007.

"I've yet to see or hear any data."

Oak Ridge City Council member Ellen Smith said she isn't yet convinced the city needs the cameras but voted for the ordinance anyway.

"This is only for authorization," Oak Ridge City Manager Jim O'Connor told Council members. "This does not put any cameras up."

The residents questioned the ability of the cameras to generate city revenues, and they urged Oak Ridge officials to lengthen the timing of yellow lights if red-light cameras are installed.

O'Connor said city staff is talking to camera vendors and has visited cities like Knoxville where the systems are already being used.

Council members could have a May workshop on the cameras, the city manager said.

"The use of automated cameras is anticipated to be an effective supplement to existing city resources as their use has been proven to reduce traffic violations in other cities," Oak Ridge city attorneys Ken Krushenski and Tammy Dunn wrote in a memo to O'Connor.

John Huotari can be contacted at (865) 220-5533.