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Council split on red-light cameras
Steve Troha
Councilman Steve Troha favors cameras.
Tensions surfaced Thursday as Hinesville City Council members disputed the necessity of installing red-light cameras in town.
For nearly two years, HPD Chief George Stagmeier and Councilman Steve Troha have been pushing for the implementation of the cameras at some of Hinesville’s busiest and most dangerous intersections to curb the running of red lights.
For sake of reference, Savannah has already installed the cameras at some of its crowded streets with mixed results, Mike Weiner, director of Traffic Engineering, said.
The number of serious or fatal wrecks, like side-impact crashes has dropped, but the number of rear-end collisions has risen, he said.
“I don’t see how this would benefit our city,” Councilman David Anderson said. “I think it’s simply a way to harass our citizens.”
Anderson also contends the council should focus its attention elsewhere, saying a traffic light needs to be installed at the intersection of 196 and Deal Street.
Councilman Charles Frasier said he also opposes the cameras since the $70 traffic tickets would raise no revenue for the city. Furthermore, he expressed concern about the possible increase in rear-end collisions.
“I don’t like the idea that people think we’re doing this to generate another dollar, and I worry about the rise of rear-end collisions on some of our faster roads,” he said.
Councilman Jack Shuman, who is in favor of the red-light system, said he felt the cameras were never intended to make money, but rather be a tool to increase driver safety.
“(The cameras) were introduced to us by the police department, not the finance department,” Troha said. “If it makes Hinesville a safer place, I think we need it.”
Larry Boggs, who was the only Hinesville resident to attend the meeting and speak on the issue, said he was against the system.
“If we want to make the town safer, can’t we use simpler means? Through my 20 years of living here, I’ve never noticed the police specifically targeting speeders or drivers running red lights,” he said. “I think the police should step up their enforcement, and I think we should lower some of our speed limits, especially on (US) 84 to help the problem.”
In light of the controversy, the vote on this issue will be delayed for 30 days to allow comments and answer questions, Mayor Thomas Ratcliffe said.
During this time, City Manager Billy Edwards will be checking on wreck statistics pertaining to side and rear-impact crashes in Savannah, and other cities close to the size of Hinesville that use cameras.
Councilman Kenneth Shaw was absent from Thursday’s meeting.
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