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8/18/2006
Texas Town Plans Freeway Speed Cameras
Hickory Creek wants to introduce freeway speed cameras to Texas. Final decision on system postponed to next town council meeting.

Hickory Creek I-35EThe town of Hickory Creek, Texas has been watching the success that Scottsdale, Arizona and the state of Illinois have had in mailing out speeding tickets to highway motorists and collecting millions in revenue. On Tuesday, the town council voted to consider a plan in its next regular meeting to take a part of the action by installing a speed camera system on Interstate 35E. The ordinance was discussed as the town considered options to enhance its budget for the 2006-2007 fiscal year.

Camera vendor American Traffic Systems (ATS) sold several council members on the system which would represent the state's only speed camera program since the city of Arlington dropped photo radar two decades ago due to heavy public opposition. Texas cities have rushed to install photo enforcement after a provision allowing municipalities to impose civil fines was inserted at the behest of influential lobbyists into an unrelated law adopted by the legislature. The state House voted nearly by a nearly 5-1 margin to revoke the sneaky provision, but a parliamentary move blocked a majority of senators who had voted to revoke the change.

ATS, for example, recently secured the contract to provide red light cameras in Houston after the company's lobbyists influenced the council to offer the company a $2.25 million contract, plus a $15 bounty on every ticket issued. Tickets are expected to be mailed beginning September 1.

Hickory Creek must receive approval from the Texas Department of Transportation for use of its right-of-way before any speed cameras could be installed. The town is located in Denton County just north of Dallas and has 2000 residents. The next regular town council meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, September 19.




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