Traffic cam plan still in park
ROGERS – Motorists traveling through this village have another month to slow down before a new traffic camera system takes effect.
Although the warning signs were posted immediately after Village Council voted July 14 to implement a camera system by the end of August, the cameras have yet to be installed because of delays in finding a suitable location.
Councilman Tom Chambers said they have decided to go with only one portable camera unit at this time and wanted to install it in the Save A Lot supermarket parking lot along state Route 7, but their request was denied after some store customers complained.
Chambers said they have selected another location near the supermarket but within the village’s right-of-way. The location will have to be approved by Optotraffic LLC, the company council hired in March to provide, operate and maintain the laser-radar traffic camera system.
Danny Aultman, an account manager for Optotraffic, attended the August council meeting to look for a new location to place the camera unit. This will likely push everything back until late September because there is a 30-day grace period once the units are installed before traffic citations can be issued to motorists.
As mentioned above, the plan as of now is only for one portable camera unit, which will likely be rotated between Route 7, the main north-south artery through town, and state Route 154, which runs east-west.
A former police officer, Aultman said he was surprised to see semi-trucks flying past the Save A Lot at 50 mph-plus during the middle of the day. The speed limit through the village of 235 residents is 35 mph, but council has indicated tickets will only be issued to motorists driving over 45 mph.
“Hopefully, the whole premise of this is traffic safety,” he said. “We’re not being mean to people. We’re just asking people not to speed.”
Chambers was disappointed anyone would threaten to quit shopping in town because council is choosing to enforce the traffic laws. “If they can’t slow down under 45 mph, we don’t want them in town anyway,” he said.
The ordinance enacted by council at the July meeting, which allows motorists to be cited under the traffic camera system, establishes a $100 fine for speeding, with $60 of that going to the village and the rest to Optotraffic.
Council still has several more steps it needs to take before the village can start issuing tickets, such as hiring a police officer to sign off on the tickets and an attorney to handle any contested tickets.
Chambers said the money from the tickets will pay for these positions, plus enable them to hire a police officer. “That’s my first goal,” he said.
The village dissolved the police department in early 2013 due to lack of money.