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Friday, January 19, 2007

Red Light Cameras coming to Balcones Heights

Red Light Cameras are going up in Balcones Heights. The controversial cameras are currently being installed at four stop lights in the city to include three cameras on Fredericksburg Road at the intersection of Fredericksburg Road & Hillcrest, Fredericksburg Road at Crossroads Boulevard & Fredericksburg Road & Balcones Heights Boulevard.

An additonal camera will monitor the intersection of Hillcrest & Babcock Road. Crews have already started digging holes for the poles that will host the cameras. Estimated time to complete the installation for the four sites is 25 days. The first installation began at Hillcrest & Babcock Road, January 11th. The recent freeze delayed the construction by five days.

The City of Balcones Heights is the first city in Bexar County to approve the addition of the red light cameras. Other local suburbs and San Antonio are taking a wait-see attitude before making a decision whether to approve red light cameras in their cities.

State Senator John Corona recently filed a bill in the Texas Senate that would limit Balcones Heights and all Texas cities from collecting the entire revenue generated by the cameras. According to Corona, the fines levied by ATS would be split 50-50 with the state and the state monies collected would be earmarked for a statewide child safety program.

Balcones Heights is the smallest suburb in Bexar County. With a seventy percent Hispanic population, the city's 3-thousand residents are spread out within an 8/10ths of a square mile to include: 250 homes & 17 apartment complexes. The boundaries extend from Crossroads Mall down Fredericksburg Road to Balcones Heights Boulevard

According to the agreement with American Traffic Solutions (ATS) who will oversee the project, there will be a thirty day grace period from the time the red light cameras are functional where violators will only be issued warning tickets. At the end of the grace period, citations will be issued and fines levied.

A Red Light Camera violation will cost the violator $148 per citation. Consequences for failure to pay the ticket will include an unfavorable mark against the violators credit report, and collection agencies will be notified and other possible legal action will be taken. The violations are a civil matter and the citation does not affect insurance rates or suspension of driver's license.

The Council entered into a five year contract with ATS. The citations will be issued from ATS home office in Scottsdale, AZ.

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