Opelika’s traffic-light cameras were ‘unpopular with citizens. Story by Opelika-Auburn News


A traffic camera is installed at the intersection of Gateway Drive and Frederick Road, near the TigerTown shopping center, on Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013, in Opelika, Ala.

Drivers will no longer receive citations from red light cameras in Opelika, after the city terminated its red light camera enforcement program in June.

The red light cameras were discontinued at all five locations in the city.

“The cameras were at the intersections of U.S. Highway 280 and Pepperell Parkway, Gateway Drive and Frederick Road, Gateway Drive and Interstate Drive and U.S. Highway 431 and Samford Avenue,” said Leigh Krehling, community public relations officer.

The city of Opelika first signed a professional service agreement with American Traffic Solutins (ATS) in Feb. 2012 to install red light enforcement cameras. Red light cameras started monitoring traffic in May 2013, and if caught running a red light, drivers had to pay a fine of $60.

“It was a five-year contract, so our contract expired at the end of May of 2018 and we did not renew the contract,” said Opelika Mayor Gary Fuller. “So it’s been about six (or) seven months since anyone has been issued a red light citation from the city of Opelika brought about by the red light cameras.

“Now, our police officers still issue red-light citations if they observe a vehicle running a red light, but we discontinued the service with ATS back in May,” he added.

ATS furnished all the cameras, hardware and software, and Opelika was responsible for providing a sworn police officer to review each one of the citations before it was issued.

“If there was any gray area, our officer would kick it out and there would not be a citation issued,” Fuller told the Opelika-Auburn News. “But anyone that was issued a citation for sure ran the red light because we had the video – about an eight second video clip that showed each incident of them running the light.”

Opelika’s contract with ATS expired on May 31, 2018 and on June 1, the city terminated its red light enforcement program. It does not have a current agreement.

‘Always about…safety’

“We are involved in a lawsuit that was filed in October 2017, challenging the legality of our automated red light camera enforcement program, and they contend that our red light camera program violated the state constitution, because it’s a civil violation and not a criminal violation,” said Fuller.

“Then we of course and ATS filed a joint motion to dismiss. And on Nov. 21, Judge Christopher Hughes, Lee County Circuit Judge, granted the joint motion to dismiss, because the plaintiffs admitted their respective vehicles did run the red light and both voluntarily paid the civil fines,” the mayor said. “They did not avail themselves of any review provided by law.”

The plaintiffs filed notice for appeal to the Alabama Supreme Court.

“We think we will prevail because we did have a local bill passed by the Alabama Legislature that allowed us to install the red light cameras but…now we’re out of the red light camera business,” said Fuller.

The city placed the red light cameras at locations that had high traffic, for the safety of residents and drivers passing through.

“We were hopeful that this would prevent collisions and T-bone collisions at the intersections … we didn’t do it for the money, although it generated some money,” Fuller said.

“It was always about the safety of our drivers and folks passing through Opelika and they were very unpopular with the citizens,” he added. “Folks just didn’t like them although it did extend the reach of our police officers, because police officers can’t possibly watch every intersection in town. But we’ve decided to do away with them, and we have.”