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Red light cameras could be coming back in Greensboro

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Red light-runners in Greensboro, beware! The idea to bring red light cameras back to the city is being discussed.

The initiative is just one leg of a major campaign to make the streets safer.

“We do not have a specific timeline on implementation at this time,” said Adam Fischer, the director of the transportation department for the city. “We do have legislative authority to start the program again. We will need to seek budget approval through City Council as we estimate that it will cost $500,000 to $750,000 per year to operate the program.”

Resident Bertha Warren is all for bringing the cameras back, especially after encountering a scary situation that may not have happened had a red light camera been activated.

“On my way over here, a driver was coming out across two lanes," Warren said. "Went right out in front of me. And I had the green light.”

Warren hopes the threat of a significant fine will encourage red light-runners to pump the brakes.

The safety of its citizens on the road is the main focus of the City of Greensboro's Vision Zero Initiative.

In the early 2000s, the city saw a sharp decline in citations after red light cameras were installed. However, in 2005, the cameras went black.

A new law shifted 90 percent of the money collected to schools, while the contractor, at the time, picked up more than 10 percent -- and the city was strapped for cash.

“One possible way to fund the program is through the proceeds from the $50 fines, however; per state legislation 90 percent of the fines go to the school system. So we would need to reach an agreement with Guilford County Schools in order to use some of the proceeds for operating expenses,” Fischer said.

Some residents, like Alma Harrison, are on the fence about bringing the cameras back.

"Well, I think it's a double-edged sword," Harrison said.

The cameras have faced some harsh criticism and are even banned in some states, like Texas.

"Some people are yellow-light runners, and actually do make the light, but the red light catches them on the end and they get a ticket," Harrison said.

While questions still remain, Harrison and Warren both can agree something needs to be done, whether it's cameras or just driving defensively.

“As Greensboro is getting bigger and more and more crowded, I don’t see how the city is going to be able to escape it," Warren said.

“My motto is, if you’re a safe driver, you shouldn’t have any problems with the red light," Harrison said.

It will take about a year to work through the presented issues and to hire a contractor to begin the program.

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