LAFAYETTE — Lafayette’s traffic camera enforcement program will remain in place.
The City-Parish Council on Tuesday voted 6-3 against a proposal by councilmen Jared Bellard, Andy Naquin and William Theriot to end the automated enforcement program.
They were the only council members to vote in favor of taking the cameras down.
Council members Kenneth Boudreaux, Kevin Naquin, Jay Castille, Brandon Shelvin, Don Bertrand and Keith Patin voted to keep the program alive.
The vote was made with limited council discussion, but 35 residents signed in to oppose the traffic camera program.
Five of those residents addressed the council, disputing the administration’s argument that the program has improved driver behavior in the city.
“Know that this program is about money, not about safety,” said Phil Abshire, who has been an outspoken opponent of the traffic camera program since it began in 2007.
The cameras snap photos of a driver and license plate when a vehicle speeds through a monitored intersection or runs a red light. The alleged violator is mailed a citation.
The program also employs two “speed vans,” vehicles equipped with radar and cameras that are dispatched throughout the city.
After the vote to keep the traffic cameras up, the council debated into the evening on possible changes in the proposed contract with the private company that manages the enforcement program, Redflex Traffic Systems.
The contract expires next month.
Several proposed changes have been suggested by council members in recent weeks, including limiting the use of speed vans to school zones and residential areas, moving oversight of the traffic camera program from the Traffic and Transportation Department to the Police Department, and limiting to four the number of new intersections added to the traffic camera program each year.
There are now 12 intersections monitored by traffic cameras, but another 17 locations are being considered along Ambassador Caffery Parkway, Evangeline Thruway, Johnston Street, Pinhook Road and Congress Street.
As of 9 p.m. on Tuesday, the council had considered two changes: proposals by Andy Naquin to extend the yellow light timing from five seconds to six seconds at intersections monitored by traffic cameras and to require the contract with Redflex to come back before the council each year.
The contract as proposed is for four fears.
Both of Andy Naquin’s proposals failed.
He had argued that the increased yellow-light time would improve safety by allowing drivers more time to clear an intersection, but Director of Traffic and Transportation Tony Tramel argued that the current five-second timeframe follows widely accepted traffic engineering standards.
Other council members questioned whether the issue should not be studied more before any changes are made, while some deferred to the city’s Traffic and Transportation Department on the timing of yellow lights.
“Why we may have the authority to change it; I don’t know if we have the expertise,” Bertrand said.