Jersey Village considers reinstallation of 11 red-light cameras

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Red-light cameras could be coming back to Jersey Village.

Jersey Village City Council approved a budget amendment at an Aug. 20 meeting allocating $57,200 for an engineering study for the reinstallation of 11 red-light cameras at seven intersections along the Hwy. 290 frontage road in the city.

The Texas Department of Transportation required the city to remove red-light cameras along the frontage road in 2013 to accommodate the Hwy. 290 widening project. Now that the widening is nearing completion, city officials have expressed interest in bringing back those cameras.

Jersey Village Chief of Police Eric Foerster said the engineering study is necessary because of changes to roads and intersections that have resulted from the Hwy. 290 project.

“You’ve had a major redesign of the road,” he said at the Aug. 20 meeting. “The sight lines are different. There are so many variables that have changed over time, I think it would be prudent to re-engineer it at this time.”

The money for the engineering study will come from the city’s traffic safety fund, Foerster said. The fund had a balance of about $1.1 million as of July, which can only be used for initiatives designed to increase traffic safety.

In 2016, Jersey Village residents voted against a proposition that would have banned future red-light camera programs. The proposition garnered support from only 35 percent of voters.

The cameras would be operated by American Traffic Solutions, a company the city used when the cameras were previously in place and with whom the city still has a contract through 2024. The engineering study looks at the feasibility of installing the cameras at the same 11 locations they were used in 2013.

TxDOT data shows 230 crashes occurred at those specific camera locations in the 18 months before they were installed in 2008. In the 12-month period from July 1, 2012, to June 30, 2013, a total of 100 accidents were reported. The number rose to 193 for the period between July 1, 2014, to June 30, 2015, after the cameras were removed, according to the Jersey Village Police Department.

When the cameras were operational, the money they raised was split between Jersey Village, ATS and the State of Texas. During the 2012-13 fiscal year—the last full year the cameras were in operation—the city raised about $1 million, which went to its traffic safety fund.

The engineering study will analyze the feasibility of installing red light cameras at the following 11 locations:

• FM 529 northbound at Hwy. 290
• Hwy. 290 eastbound and westbound at FM 529
• Jones Road southbound at Hwy. 290
• Hwy. 290 eastbound and westbound at Jones Road
• Senate Avenue southbound at Hwy. 290
• Hwy. 290 eastbound and westbound at Senate Avenue
• Hwy. 290 westbound at West Road
• Beltway 8 northbound at Hwy. 290

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4 comments
COMMENT
  1. Why waste money on red light cameras on 290? Traffic is so bad that you won’t catch many people speeding.

  2. James C. Walker

    Add one second to the yellow intervals the new engineering study will recommend and the rate of violations will be too low to justify having the cameras – on either financial or safety grounds. Will the city council insist on this method? That depends upon whether they actually want the cameras for safety, or more likely want them as the for-profit racket that red light cameras actually are.

    James C. Walker, National Motorists Association

  3. I, for one, would love to see the cameras come back. It’s scary out there. I’m constantly saying to my husband “did you see that?” People are running red lights all the time. It’s time to hit them where it hurts- their wallets.

  4. If cameras were to come back, also retrofit the traffic lights to have a countdown timer for green. If drivers know how much time is left before a light will change AND that there is a camera, drivers can gauge their decision appropriately. I find that other places with cameras you almost want to speed up if you are close OR slow down if you are far away to avoid getting caught in the yellow. With a timer and camera combination you can make smarter decisions for safety and to avoid the fines.

    Another option would be to perform a traffic study to determine the correct synchronizations of traffic lights relative to each other for maximum traffic flow. Use the study to adjust the times and revaluate again after adjusting timing. Repeat.

    All that being said, I am against traffic cameras. But if they must, at least make it where it makes the drivers job easier to make safe decisions.

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Shawn Arrajj
Shawn Arrajj serves as the editor of the Cy-Fair edition of Community Impact Newspaper where he covers the Cy-Fair and Jersey Village communities. He mainly writes about development, transportation and issues in Harris County.
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