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Friday, January 16, 2009

Pointless Change at Grand and Chouteau

At last night's candidate forum sponsored by the 15th Ward Democrats, Comptroller Darlene Green received applause for an issue not directly related to her campaign. When asked about red light cameras, she said that she definitely knew of a camera that needs to be removed: the red light camera at Grand and Chouteau. Mayor Francis Slay arrived during this time, so Green directly addressed the mayor from the podium.

The problem with the light, Green said, is that it is part of changes to the intersection that forces the three lanes of southbound traffic on Grand into two with a left-turn-only lane at Chouteau. Past Chouteau, the road is back to three lanes. Rarely do left turns clog the southbound lanes, and there are always vehicles in the inside lane that have to move over at the last minute to avoid getting a camera ticket from running straight in a turn-only lane.

The audience burst into applause, for good reason. That intersection reconfiguring is one of the silliest in the city. Before the camera went up, I joined many drivers in ignoring the changes. Since I am not an alderman, getting a red light ticket fixed might be difficult, so I now reluctantly obey the pointless changes there.

All of the red light cameras violate the spirit of the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and any sensible view of law enforcement. I hope that Comptroller Green's recommendation is followed, but we need to pull them out completely. The changes at Grand and Chouteau are blatantly revenue-driven, and impede smart traffic flow there. They need to be undone. Then we need to get rid of the remaining red light cameras and find a more dignified, constitutional way of enhancing city revenue.


JMStokes said...

This is one of the most pointless red light cameras in town, I agree. I applaud the decision to remove it. I live in Lafayette Square, and often turn left onto Chouteau from Grand coming home from BJC. It's frustrating sitting there at a red light at 1 am with no one around, but I can't blow it because of that damned camera.

Anonymous said...

Arguing for a second look at a siting decision of a camera -- or the configuration of traffic flow at an intersection -- is reasonable.

Arguing that discouraging red light runners by using automated cameras is not "dignified" is weak.

Constitutional? The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled earlier this month that they were.

andy said...

the supreme court obviously doesn't agree with your view of the 4th amendment, though, I do.


Vanishing STL said...

I am not familiar with the red light camera situation or what it has to do with the left turn lane (I have a habbit of going down Compton to avoid all the lights on Grand), but the new bridge over the tracks will only have two lanes in each direction, so changing the lanes would be a moot point. There will be a third turn out lane to provide drop-off and bus stopping at the Metro station at the middle of the bridge.

MH said...

How about people just follow the laws and act like civilized human beings? That would be the biggest first step towards a better city. Saving a few seconds or minutes of time is irrelevant in the long run, and if a person is in that big of a rush, they have other much larger personal issues to deal with.