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Photo enforcement uncertain at Mount Carmel's new 11-W traffic lights

Jeff Bobo • Jan 22, 2020 at 3:14 PM

MOUNT CARMEL — Traffic lights that were originally scheduled to go up in 2018 at the intersection of 11-W and Englewood Avenue are being installed this week, but whether another set of photo enforcement cameras goes up beside them is still to be determined.

When the Mount Carmel Board of Mayor and Aldermen approved its five-year contract with Redflex to install photo enforcement cameras at 11-W and Hammond Avenue, the future Englewood Avenue traffic lights were supposed to be included in that contract.

At least that’s what was stated during the April 25, 2017 BMA meeting when the contract was approved.

Mount Carmel Police Department Chief Ken Lunsford Jr. told the Times News Tuesday that’s also the recollection of the Redflex representative he spoke with earlier this week.

“Redflex is under the impression they’re installing cameras there,” Lunsford said. “A survey will have to be done, so it’s not going to be immediate, but it’s their position that they have a contract for both intersections.”

Uncertain about photo enforcement

City Manager Mike Housewright told the Times News Tuesday neither he nor the city attorney recalled the Englewood Avenue intersection being included in the Redflex contract.

Housewright said the BMA will study traffic at that intersection for a period of time to determine if there are any problems that could be resolved by photo enforcement, but it’s not a decision likely to be made anytime soon.

Lunsford said he believes photo enforcement at the Hammond Avenue traffic lights  make 11-W safer, and he doesn’t see a downside to installing cameras at Englewood as well.

Redflex citations, revenue declining

The number of citations issued has declined significantly since the Hammond Avenue photo enforcement cameras went up in 2017.

“We used to see 600 to 700 tickets per month and last month we had 170,” Lunsford said. “I hope we get to the day when there are zero.”

Aside from providing photo enforcement, the Redflex cameras count traffic. Lunsford said he was told by Redflex that in 2019 more than 7 million cars passed through Mount Carmel on Highway 11-W.

During that same time period, approximately 2,000 red light citations were issued at Hammond Avenue.

Mount Carmel isn’t generating a tremendous amount of revenue from photo enforcement.

Housewright said that in 2018-19 the city’s photo enforcement revenue was approximately $30,000.

From July 1 through the end of November, the city’s Redflex revenue was right at $23,000, Housewright added.

Rock discovery causes delay

TDOT contractors were hoping to have Mount Carmel’s new red light up and flashing at 11-W and Englewood Avenue by noon Wednesday but they ran into a snag Tuesday that might cost a day or two.

They hit rock while digging to install the westbound warning lights and didn’t have the machinery on hand to complete the job.

Workers got the lights up facing Englewood and the Tennessee National Guard Armory entrance. The 11-W lights are expected to be online within the next day or two.

The lights will be covered with plastic bags until they go online, at which time they’ll be flashing for seven days to give the public time to get used to them. After that period has ended, the traffic lights will be fully operational.

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