A local lawmaker is leading an effort to get rid of some area speed cameras, but Bluff City officials say the cameras have likely saved lives.
Representative Timothy Hill has brought a bill to the state capitol in hopes of getting rid of the speed cameras in Piney Flats. "We have a city that has come along and they've corridor annexed an area that has no governing body and said their traffic is high enough to support the activity of these cameras. Unfortunately the people in Piney Flats don't really have a voice whether or not to remove these or not," said Hill.
Bluff City manager Judy Dulaney says nearly 30,000 vehicles drive on 11-E in Piney Flats and only one percent of the people driving ever get cited. She also says 90 percent of the first-time offenders never get another ticket. "It's doing its job. It was put there for safety and no other reason," said Dulaney.
"People have slowed down. We've worked less wrecks than we ever have through there," said Greg Depew, Chief of Police.
Representative Hill tells us he's not buying it and believes it has to do with money. "I know that the majority of what is discussed seems to have little to do with safety and more to do with the money they generate," said Hill.
Dulaney tells us they only generate 18 percent of their funds through the cameras and she expects that number to continue to drop; but the money they do gain, Dulaney says goes back into the community. "Because of the extra revenue we were able to put it back into the town and be able to give more to non-profits," she said.
Another issue Hill brings up: he says cameras should not replace police officers. "There is no comparison. There's no training a camera that takes photos with a flashing light. The officer is well trained, they're good at what they do," said Hill.
However, Depew says he only has eight officers in his department and they can't monitor just one roadway. "We have different calls we're on or other highways to patrol or different duties we're doing," he said.
"If those cameras are taken away, it will turn back into the dangerous area that it is," said Dulaney.
Dulaney told us that if the cameras are taken away and replaced with officers, the speeding citations will go from $50 to $123.50.
As of now, the bill still sits in the transportation sub-committee.