More traffic enforcement cameras in works for Lafayette

City-parish looks to expand traffic program

Four intersections along Evangeline Thruway are being eyed for new traffic cameras in an expansion of the city-parish government’s automated enforcement program for speeders and red-light runners, according to city-parish officials.

The move comes as city-parish government works out the details of a new collection policy that calls for filing lawsuits to recover some of the more than $2 million in traffic camera fines that have gone uncollected.

The City-Parish Council last year authorized Redflex Traffic Systems, the private contractor that manages the enforcement program, to increase the number of monitored intersections from 12 to 16.

Redflex has already begun the permitting process to place new cameras at four intersections along Evangeline Thruway — Mudd Avenue, Second Street, Johnson Street and Simcoe Street, according to information from City-Parish Traffic and Transportation Director Tony Tramel.

He said the intersections were selected based on crash analyses.

It is not clear when the new cameras might go up, Tramel said, “but it appears the vendor is moving forward at those locations.”

The city’s automated traffic camera enforcement program began in 2007. The cameras take pictures of the driver and license plate when a vehicle runs a red light or speeds through an intersection, and the alleged violator is mailed a citation.

About 400,000 citations have been issued through the automated enforcement program since it began, bringing in $12.4 million in revenue — $5.6 million going to Redflex and $6.8 million to city-parish government, according to figures from an update on the program released this week.

But a significant number of citations are never paid, and the total amount of uncollected revenue for the past three years is about $2.1 million, according to the update.

The City-Parish Council in July approved a new collection strategy that calls for the City-Parish Attorney’s Office to file lawsuits to recover the fines.

The specifics on how the new collection policy will be implemented are still being worked out.

Tramel said that, pending council approval, something should be in place this year and that there will likely be an opportunity for drivers to pay past-due fines without penalty before the collection program begins.

“I’ve indicated that it’s desirable to have an amnesty period,” he said.

While work progresses on new camera locations and stepped-up collection efforts, the number of citations issued under the program has been steadily dropping, along with the revenue the program generates for public safety and traffic improvements.

The number of speeding citations has fallen from a high of 95,180 in 2008 to 41,288 in 2012, according to figures from city-parish government.

The number of citations for red light violations has fallen from a high a 21,025 in 2010 to 13,991 last year, according to the figures.

As citations have dropped, the amount of annual traffic camera revenue has fallen from a peak of $3.1 million in 2009 to $1.6 million last year, according to the figures.

Tramel said it is not surprising the number of citations has declined, because drivers are likely paying closer attention and being safer at intersections monitored by traffic cameras.

“That is our mission: To get it to zero,” he said.