Traffic cameras could be coming to Jasper

JASPER, AL (WBRC) - Spend 10 minutes watching drivers on Highway 118 Jasper, and you will see at least a few run a red light, especially near the Walmart and the intersection with Industrial parkway. If the mayor and the police chief get their way, that will change. That's because traffic cameras could be coming soon.

"It's about safety. We have had some horrific accidents on this highway out here and the primary cause for these accidents has been someone running a red light so to bring safety to our streets," says Jasper Mayor David O'Mary.

The city council is expected to approve a measure at their meeting Tuesday that would send a local bill to the state legislature to allow the cameras. The mayor hopes the bill could pass before the regular session ends.

"My guess is in the next couple of weeks we will have a bill drafted, so I expect this will move around fairly quickly," says Mayor O'Mary. State Representative Connie Rowe, the city's former police chief, is expected to support the bill.

Jasper Police say they studied other cities with similar systems and found they could reduce traffic injuries. They have been working on the plan with an Arizona based company called American Traffic Solutions. The company already operates cameras in Midfield, Bessemer, Montgomery, and Selma. The city would not have to pay for the cameras or the installation, but would have to share a portion of the proceeds from tickets with the company.

"We feel like this would help with the safety factor, in reducing injuries and reducing those accidents and just make it safer travel for our citizens" says Chief J.C Poe.

The company has already completed a study on intersections in the city, largely focused on Highway 118, but where exactly the cameras would go has not been decided. Some options are at Airport Road, Walston Bridge Road, Walmart, Industrial Boulevard, as well as Old Birmingham Road and Industrial Boulevard and the red light at Jasper High School.

Drivers caught on camera running the light, would receive a $110 ticket in the mail. It's considered a civil citation, which means it does not go on a driving record or impact insurance rates. But drivers still have the option to appeal it before a judge.

"Any citation will be reviewed by an officer of this police department to determine if that citation will be issued. It's not a revenue enhancement, it's about safety," says Mayor O'Mary.

The police chief agrees. He also says the cameras could help solve other crimes too.

"If we have a crime that has just happened, a store get robbed along 118, then we can view these live also and we can see if that car has passed through an intersection," says chief Poe. "I think it will be an asset for jasper, it will free up our officers somewhat and make it safer."

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