September 13, 2007
The spread of red light cameras: Sugar Land and Missouri City

It's getting to be that you can't run a red light anywhere around here without zooming past a red light camera.

Sugar Land City Council unanimously voted in June to join Houston and other area cities in installing cameras designed to photograph motorists who run red lights. Citations are then mailed to violators.

Meanwhile, officials in Missouri City, the county's second-largest municipality, are studying the possibility of installing red-light cameras at high-volume intersections.

"We are in the process of examining it. I expect to give a recommendation to the city manager next month," said Police Chief Ron Echols.

Echols said although the study has not been completed, he is inclined to wait before deciding on red light cameras.

He said motorists who often drive in Houston and Sugar Land will be more cautious when approaching traffic signals because they know those cities have the red light cameras.

"People don't often know if they are in Sugar Land, Houston or Missouri City," he said.

And, Echols said many people believe the red light cameras have already been installed at certain Missouri City intersections.

I think that perception is pretty widespread. Some months ago, a woman posted to an email list I'm on asking about what she should do when she got the ticket she was expecting for running a red light at Shepherd and Dallas. I pointed out to her that the camera she saw above the light was not a red light camera - it's there to optimize light timing and traffic flow. She was blown away by this - she'd thought all those cameras were there to snap red light violators. I figure she's not alone in that.

Sugar Land officials had hoped to have the system operational this month, said Police Chief Steve Griffith, but the city is still working on an agreement with the Texas Department of Transportation.

"Basically it's just an agreement that says we (Sugar Land) are responsible for the operation, maintenance, anything to do with the cameras," he said.

He said once the agreement is finalized, installation will only take a few weeks.

Griffith said the cameras will be placed at four intersections: Texas 6 and U.S. 59; Lexington and Texas 6; Williams Trace and U.S. 59; and Eldridge and West Airport.

There's a sidebar link with a map of the soon-to-be-enabled locations. Drive appropriately.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on September 13, 2007 to Planes, Trains, and Automobiles