Ellen Smith for Oak Ridge Rotating Header Image

Use traffic enforcement camera money for one-time traffic-safety-related improvements

Taxi crossing elevated pedestrian crosswalk

"Humped-zebra"-type crossing in Sydney, Australia.

Knoxville News Sentinel reporter Bob Fowler asked Oak Ridge City Council members for our views on use of the revenue from those controversial cameras that enforce speed limits and red-light compliance. His article on the answers that he got from five of us is in Friday’s paper. My full answer didn’t make it into the article, but I can provide it here:

City Council has never budgeted for this revenue, although some individual Council members have made public statements about its use that some residents now interpret as having been promises from the full Council.

I have told city staff that I think this money should be placed in a special revenue fund so that its expenditure can be tracked separately from the General Fund.  I want the money to be used for one-time improvements that will have long-term benefits for the safety of motorists and pedestrians in the city. It should not be used for recurring expenses because the city shouldn’t count on having this revenue forever, and it should be used for traffic safety because traffic safety is the stated purpose of the cameras.

Some possible uses are traffic-calming measures such as roundabouts and “humped zebra crossings” (that’s a British term for striped pedestrian crosswalks that are elevated above the road surface for greater visibility and to slow traffic), new walk light signals, additional signs to alert drivers to the speed limit, and more stop signs to slow down the drivers who speed through residential neighborhoods on streets like Outer Drive. Also, there is a federal mandate requiring cities to upgrade the reflectorization on all street signs and pavement markings within the next few years — I think that would be an appropriate use for traffic camera money.

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2 Comments

  1. Nancy Smith says:

    Glenwood Springs has tried traffic-calming measures on one notorious road through a residential area. Humped zebra crossings work better than other things they tried, but drivers just speed up more between humps. Carbondale now has stop signs on almost every corner on Main Street, and they put them too close together to allow for speeding up in between. But it strikes me as a big waste of gas, to require law-abiding drivers to stop at every corner.
    I’ll be interested to see what Oak Ridge does and how it works for you.

  2. Ellen Smith says:

    Interesting information, Nancy.

    It remains to be seen what creative things Oak Ridge will actually do with the traffic camera money. The money collected in FY 2010 is now destined to plug a hole in the current-FY budget. However, it doesn’t look like the cameras are going away any time soon, so there may be a chance to try some of these traffic-calming measures with money collected in future years.

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