Bradenton red light cameras on hold -- for now

Kimberly Kuizon reports

- Bradenton's red light cameras are gone, but not for good according to city council. 

"The council was not happy with several of the locations," Councilman Patrick Roff gave as one of the reasons the cameras have been temporarily shut down.

Seven red light cameras in total will no longer be documenting or ticketing red light-runners.

"I have concerns about the effectiveness of the red light camera program in the city of Bradenton," said Councilman Bemis Smith.

City council said it will hire a new vendor, but the current one will not continue until then. Roff explained he was not against red light cameras. He was, however, against the contract and performance from the city's current vendor, Xerox.

Council members said Xerox had too much control over where the cameras went. Some also questioned whether the cameras served their intended purpose.

"It should be done in a venue that we can honestly convince the public that this is not about generating money. It's about trying to get people to stop running red lights and causing serious accidents and injuries," said Roff.

The majority of Bradenton city council members said they want the red light cameras to remain in the city, but they want an overhaul of the system. They want to look at different cameras and explore the opportunities of placing them at other intersections.

"I would have liked to keep these current cameras on until the time came, but it's a compromise to get the red light cameras in the right intersections," said Councilman Gene Brown.

For Melissa Wandall, the decision is bittersweet. She fought for red light cameras after her husband was killed in 2003 by a red light-runner in Bradenton.

"I think it's so important that we make important decisions on our highways. I will be here making sure that that continues to happen," she said.

But she is glad the cameras aren't disappearing completely.

"It is a great thing [city council members] are on board. They want to see these red light safety cameras on board, but they should never go dark," said Wandall. 

The city has seven cameras.  They catch about 75 red light runners a day.  But council members aren't happy with the intersections where the cameras are, saying some of the cameras are worthless.

They voted late this morning to re-think the camera plan, and while that's happening, red light camera tickets will be suspended.

There's no word yet on when the program will be re-instated.
 

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