6/12/2007

TxDOT Ignores State Ledge: To Install Federally Funded Highway Speed Cameras

Despite the opposition of the state legislature, the Texas Department of Transportation proposes a federally funded speed camera test.

by thenewspaper.com

Despite the near-unanimous opposition in the state legislature to the use of speed cameras, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) is moving forward on a proposal to deploy photo radar on state highways using federal gas tax funds. Legislation awaiting Governor Rick Perry's signature prohibited only municipalities -- like Marble Falls and Rhome -- from installing automated speeding ticket systems. It was silent on the possibility of a state-run system.

TxDOT began searching in April for a vendor that, using federal funds, would allow the agency "to assess and evaluate all elements of an automated speed notification system." Once selected, the vendor would operate an average time speed camera test for at least six months on Interstate 10 near El Paso and State Highway 6 near College Station.

Time-distance ticketing systems use multiple cameras spaced far apart on a freeway. Each car is photographed once as it enters the first section of road. Miles later a second photograph is taken that allows the vehicle's average speed to be calculated from the time it took to travel between the two locations. In use in Britain under the trade name SPECS, these cameras are commonly referred to as "yellow vultures" and are among the most lucrative in the country.

In its request for proposals, TxDOT cited success of speed cameras in the UK, which generated £120 million (US $240 million) in revenue in 2003, and in Washington, DC, which has generated $217 million in revenue with its red light and speed cameras since 1999. TxDOT's vendor will send notices -- warnings at first -- to motorists driving just 5 MPH over the limit with an accuracy level of +/- 2 MPH, meaning those driving just 3 MPH over the limit could receive a photograph and letter in the mail.

The River Cities Daily Tribune, which first reported the story last week, noted that TxDOT also ordered Marble Falls to remove its speed camera van from state highways in April citing safety concerns.

"How hypocritical is that?" Marble Falls Mayor Raymond Whitman told the Daily Tribune. "I have a bit of a problem with it, not because they're using the camera, but because if it's unsafe for us to use, how can it be safe for the state to do it?" Read the rest of the story and see hyperlinks here.

1 comment:

Peter Stern said...

Whaaa?

TxDOT ignores state laws and does whatever it wants?

So what else is new?