Tag Archives: Amarillo traffic

Amarillo boosting its red-light camera deployment

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is on record saying he believes the state ought to yank cities’ authority to deploy red-light cameras at dangerous intersections.

Amarillo has responded to that declaration by increasing the number of cameras it has posted around the city from nine to 12.

Take that, Gov. Abbott!

I remain a supporter of the technology that the city uses to assist in catching red-light runners in the act of breaking the law.

The city is going to add seven cameras at intersections, while removing four cameras from other intersections. Thus, the city is continuing to use the technology to assist the police department. Moreover, the city is upgrading red-light camera assemblies at five intersections.

So, what does that mean for the future of the technology? I suppose you can say it lies in the hands of the Texas Legislature. Amarillo has two House members representing the city: Republicans John Smithee and Four Price; it also has a state senator, Republican Kel Seliger, who managed to make some news in recent days because of his dispute with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.

What do these three men believe about the red-light cameras? I haven’t asked them directly. Maybe I will, even though I no longer live in Amarillo.

I don’t see any such cameras on the job in Collin County, where my wife and I now live. I don’t see them in Fairview, or Allen, or McKinney or in Princeton — where we’ll be moving into our new home quite soon. I would not object to any city in Collin County deploying these devices. The way I figure it, if it deters red-light runners then they are doing their job.

As for Amarillo’s red-light cameras, consider this little tidbit: Texas Department of Transportation officials say that the three intersections where the cameras are being removed recorded just four collisions from July 2016 to the end of June 2017. They are heavily traveled thoroughfares, so I am going to presume that the cameras did their job.

Cities should be allowed to determine for themselves whether or where to deploy these devices. They don’t need Bigger Brother looking over them.

Where are the cops when you need them?

I don’t like using this blog as a forum for complaining about municipal services … but I’ll make this brief exception.

The Amarillo Police Department needs to post a traffic officer at the intersection of Amarillo Boulevard and Soncy Road around, oh, 5 p.m. every work day. The huge medical center’s work force is heading for home about that time.

If you’re traveling in either direction along The Boulevard, it’s impossible to get through the green light — which is the signal for motorists to proceed.

Why is that? Because motorists who are southbound on Soncy are blocking the intersection because traffic has backed up north of Interstate 40. That’s why!

I’m looking out of the city’s financial condition here. There’s lots of revenue to be gained by police issuing tickets to those who block intersections, which I believe is in violation of city traffic ordinance.

I also am looking out for the peace of mind of motorists who get caught by fellow motorists who aren’t courteous enough to keep the intersection clear while they wait to proceed.

There. My rant is now over.

Keep the cameras on duty

My request of the Amarillo City Council is simple and straightforward.

It should agree to expand the deployment of red-light cameras to other troublesome intersections in Amarillo.

Council members are reportedly ready to make a decision. They have targeted a half-dozen intersections where motorists are prone to running red lights. The city already has cameras keeping an eagle eye on lawbreakers; the camera snaps pictures of those who run through the lights and the city sends fine notices to the registered owners of the motor vehicle that has been used in the traffic infraction.

The cameras have worked so well at one intersection — Coulter and Elmhurst — that the city is considering disconnecting the cameras at that location.

The council has received some disturbing news at one level. A lot of the fines the city has assessed have gone unpaid. The count is more than 11,000 of them issued in 2017. Of course, the city cannot let those unpaid citations go unaccounted for.

Council members have learned that the Traffic Department has improved signalization at several intersections with the money collected from the red-light cameras. That, I should add, is how the Legislature stipulated the money must be spent in cities that deploy the cameras.

While some cities have cratered under criticism of this technology, I am delighted to see that Amarillo is staying the course … at least for now. My hope is that it stays the course for the long haul.

Motorists need to be aware that intersections are being equipped with this technology. The more the merrier. The cops cannot be everywhere all at once. The city has taken a proactive approach to dealing with a problem that has caused considerable misery, damage and grief because motorists choose to disobey the law.

My hope is that the City Council proceeds with an expansion of red-light camera traffic enforcement.


Stand your ground, commissioners

Red-light camera signs: make ’em bigger

Let’s visit the issue of red-light cameras once more. An idea from a long-time acquaintance is worth sharing.

This acquaintance is a retired West Texas A&M University professor who says he supports the red-light cameras positioned at intersections throughout Amarillo. He recently got popped by one of them for scooting through an intersection; the camera snapped a picture of the license plate on his car — which he was driving — and he paid the fine.

No problem with that, he said.

But then he offered this interesting caveat. If the city is sincere in its contention that the cameras are not intended strictly as a revenue source, why not make them more visible?

Hmmm. Why not, indeed?

My pal noted that the signs are difficult to spot when you’re concentrating on traffic moving in two directions on a busy street. State law requires cities to position the signs at least 300 feet from the intersection where the camera is deployed. I’ll have to admit that I don’t usually notice the signs either along the streets on which I drive frequently.

I’ve been fortunate, though, in that I haven’t been ticketed for running a red light. I darn sure won’t burst through the intersection after coming to a complete stop.

I don’t believe state law stipulates that the signs must be a certain size.

So, if the city’s declaration that the cameras are intended to make driving safer in Amarillo, is there anything that prohibits the city from making the signs a bit larger, a bit gaudier, more noticeable to the average driver?

I continue to strongly support red-light cameras as a traffic-enforcement tool. The revenue aspect is negated somewhat by state law that requires the city to spend money only on traffic improvement. The jury is still out as to whether they’re reducing the number of accidents caused by motorists running through red lights.

Perhaps larger signage would help. Any thoughts on that?

Dangerous on-ramp discovered in Amarillo

A lot has been written, spoken, tweeted, Facebooked — you name it — over many years about the quality of drivers in Amarillo and the engineering of some of the traffic infrastructure around town.

I found a location this morning that deserves some comment here.

I hauled some goods to the Salvation Army warehouse and store about 11 a.m. The warehouse/store is at 27th Avenue just a little east of Llano Cemetery. I dropped the stuff off and headed west toward Interstate 27; I turned north to catch the freeway toward downtown.

I then discovered something that had gotten past me the many times I’ve driven along that stretch of road: The on-ramp is very short and is located quite close to a lane in which the motorists all have to exit the freeway to catch another on-ramp toward Interstate 40.

The traffic was heavy at that particular moment. I was driving my big Dodge pickup, aka Big Jake. I had to come to a complete stop on the on-ramp, as traffic was not yielding, meaning no one was moving into an inside lane to give me room.

Why is that? Well, they had to stay in that lane to connect to I-40. Therefore, I understand why they couldn’t yield to little ol’ me.

I waited for what seemed like an eternity for a break in the traffic. When one occurred, I had to pounce on the accelerator to get enough speed to merge into the traffic that was approaching. I didn’t want to get in anyone’s way as they (a) headed toward downtown or (b) sought to make the exit onto I-40.

As I was stopped at the intersection, I thought of my wife. Yes, I love her dearly and I think of her often, but this time I recalled a terrible accident in which she was rear-ended by a driver while — yep — she waited on an on-ramp to merge into traffic. That was nearly a year ago. She was quite lucky she wasn’t hurt more badly than she was — or worse. That on-ramp, just west of Georgia Street, merges into the westbound I-40 lanes. It, too, provides little time or space for vehicles to merge. She had to stop because the traffic was too heavy. Then she got clobbered — by an individual traveling at an estimated 60 mph.

I’m wondering at this moment if it isn’t time for the Texas Department of Transportation and the Amarillo Traffic Engineering Department to do a comprehensive study of the safety of some of these access lanes and on-ramps to determine what they can do to improve them.