Traffic cameras could be coming to Harahan

by Michelle Hunter, The Times-Picayune Thursday June 18, 2009, 11:48 PM

John McCusker / The Times-PicayuneThe Harahan City council is considering installing traffic cameras in the city like this one at the intersection of Clearview Parkway and Veterans Memorial Boulevard.
Speeders beware: Traffic cameras could be coming to Harahan.
The Harahan City Council got a visit from a representative of Redflex Traffic Systems, which manages the traffic cameras that have vexed speeders and red-light runners in unincorporated Jefferson Parish, New Orleans, Westwego and Gretna for more than a year.
During Thursday's meeting, the council introduced for first reading an ordinance to bring speed-enforcement cameras to the city. That sets the stage for a public hearing on the matter at the council's July 16 meeting.
In the meantime, Mayor Paul Johnston said the city attorney will begin drafting the ordinance that would allow Redflex to issue tickets and make the violation a civil offense.
Charlie Buckels, Southeastern regional sales manager for Redflex, addressed the council with statistics from Lafayette, which he said has seen a 68 percent decrease in total crashes and a 71 percent decrease in right-angle and rear-end crashes in the three years since the red light and the speeding cameras were installed.
"We're offering a speed enforcement solution that will change speeding behavior, " Buckels said.
Traffic cameras remain controversial in the rest of Jefferson Parish. Last month, 300 anti-camera plaintiffs filed suit in state court after a federal judged tossed their first lawsuit that had alleged the tickets were unconstitutional. Now they're arguing the enforcement system violates state laws and the state Constitution. Buckels said he feels Redflex will prevail.
"We're very confident with the outcome. So far, those cases haven't been successful, " he said.
With the ordinance now on the July agenda, Redflex will being hammering out the contract, which Buckels said would be similar to those already in place in the parish. Redflex would provide the equipment -- vans, cameras, tripods, trailers, etc. -- at no cost to the city and take a flat $35.50 fee off the top of any violation citations. The standard contract runs for five years. If the ordinance is approved, he said the company could have the cameras in place within 30 days.
Council members heard dissent immediately from two Harahan residents. Lenny Jaeger, 71, asked the council to support citizens and not a corporate giant. He also urged the public to vote out any elected officials who vote in favor of the cameras.
Lynn Bergeron, 78, said he doesn't think residents want traffic cameras in Harahan.
"I don't think this is anything we need. I would ask you to think long and hard, " he said.
Michelle Hunter can be reached at or 504.883.7054.

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