It wasn’t long after a red-light camera system was installed in 2007 at the U.S. 61 intersection with West Ely Road/Pleasant Street that Hannibal police began to notice new trends.
“Within a matter of months we saw a significant reduction in people running the red light and accidents started dropping,” said HPD Chief Lyndell Davis.
Considering the impact the West Ely and Pleasant camera system has had in reducing the number of crashes, Davis is optimistic that a way will be found so the red-light camera system at that location can be re-installed.
“As far as effectiveness, that one is very effective,” he said. “It’s a crossroads of the community right there when you think about it. It’s a vital one because it really helped get the traffic under control at a vital point. We would hate to lose that one because it was one of our original ones and right off the bat helped us justify others.”
Since camera systems were initially installed at Pleasant/West Ely and Route 168/Diamond Boulevard, additional cameras have gone in along U.S. 61 at Market Street/Paris Gravel Road and James Road/Highway MM.
Davis contends that the camera systems have made U.S. 61 safer not only for the general public, but for his officers.
“Even with the enhancements to that (Pleasant/West Ely) intersection, you still have a tremendous traffic flow that goes through that area. It’s very difficult to staff that with flesh-and-blood officers,” he said. “Not only is it hard from a labor standpoint to have that many officers to handle that, but danger is there any time you try to effectively do traffic stops. And when you’re talking about 9 to 10 million vehicles going up and down (U.S.) 61 through Hannibal every year, that’s a huge undertaking. That’s why the red-light cameras have been so useful and effective for us.”
In addition to helping reduce the number of accidents that are seen in Hannibal along the U.S. 61 corridor, another benefit of red-light cameras is the cash they generate for the city. In 2010, the city netted $290,000 as a result of the cameras. The total increased to $366,000 in 2011 and to $452,000 in 2012. According to Hannibal Finance Director Doug Warren, the fiscal year 2013 budget is projecting a net of $500,000.
“Through the first quarter we’re right on pace to reach that,” he said.
Warren noted that camera revenue is up in the first quarter of this year ($127,065) over 2011 ($116,953), even though the camera system at Pleasant/West Ely has been out of service for a few months.
According to Warren, HPD theorizes that the new camera system at Highway MM/James Road, which was not in service a year ago, is responsible for the increase.