An introductory ordinance before the Lafayette City-Parish Council Tuesday has been pulled from the batch of intro ordinances and will be discussed and voted on separately, setting up a likely debate on the merits of Lafayette Consolidated Government’s use of electronic traffic-law enforcement within the city of Lafayette. The movement on the agenda of Ordinance 67 — sponsored by Tea Party-backed Councilmen Jared Bellard, Andy Naquin and William Theriot — was done at the behest of District 7 Councilman Don Bertrand who supports the SafeLight/SafeSpeed contract with RedFlex, the Arizona company that administers the program.
Ordinance 67 would allow the contract between LCG and RedFlex to expire this summer, thus ending electronic enforcement, which has been controversial since its inception five years ago. Bertrand tells The Ind he hopes to kill the ordinance in its cradle — intro ordinances that are pulled from the batch are voted on separately whereas ordinances that remain in a batch of introductory ordinances tend to pass as council members issue perfunctory “yea” votes knowing each ordinance will be considered on its own merits two weeks later during the vote to finalize and pass it.
“I don’t know what kind of support I’ve got to kill it,” Bertrand says. “I’ll make my arguments tomorrow night. I’ve got an idea there’s a couple of people who will support killing it because we’re going to be discussing the contract anyway coming up pretty soon and there’s going to be a briefing as well prior to going to the contract [renewal].”
“I haven’t heard anybody make any new arguments [for ending the program] — all the arguments are the same old arguments that in my opinion have been addressed,” the south side Republican adds.
In January, Director of Traffic and Transportation Tony Tramel, whose department oversees SafeLight/SafeSpeed, issued a status report on the program demonstrating its success in reducing collisions and changing driver behavior. Following is an excerpt from an INDreporter blog published Wednesday, Jan. 25:
According to Tramel’s report, the SafeLight (camera enforcement at intersections) and SafeSpeed (the speed vans) programs have generated $10.6 million in revenue through November of last year, which represents a four-year period. Of that total, LCG has gotten $5.7 million while the vendor, RedFlex, has received $4.9 million.
Also detailed in the report is an analysis of SafeLight intersections showing a marked reduction in collisions. Using the 14-month period before the cameras were installed and comparing it to the 14-month period after the cameras were installed, the analysis shows that total crashes at these intersections fell 63 percent after the introduction of the program: 343 before installation compared to 126 after. Rear-end collisions fell the most — 69 percent — while right-angle collisions fell 51 percent.
According to Tramel’s report, the “reduction of traffic crashes appears to reflect a significant positive improvement in reducing traffic crashes related to driver behavior, which was originally identified as the principal purpose of the SafeLight/SafeSpeed programs. This reduction in traffic crashes increases the efficiency of the traffic control and traffic flow efforts, and decreases the number of serious traffic crashes to which public safety agencies must respond at the expense of taxpayers, thereby contributing to the overall public safety of Lafayette and ultimately the citizens of Lafayette.”