The City of Hampton is considering a new tactic in the ongoing effort to keep Interstate 64 backups from clogging city streets: red light cameras.
Public Works Director Jason Mitchell explained the concept to City Council at the Jan. 11 work session. Traffic along Settlers Landing Road would be clearly directed into three lanes.In the left lane, traffic would travel toward Phoebus or 64 West. The right lane, traffic would turn right onto the Hampton University Campus or Veterans Affairs Medical Center. During most hours of the day, the middle lane would allow traffic onto the I-64 East ramp; however, during the worst traffic hours of 3-6 p.m., the light would remain red.
Images taken by the cameras would be reviewed, and tickets would be mailed to violators for running a red traffic light. These are not moving violations and will not go on anyone’s record, but there would be a fine of no more than $50.
Currently, state law only allows the cameras to determine violations for drivers who run red lights. However, City Council is asking the General Assembly to allow other uses, such as blocking an intersection or improper right turn, in areas affected by traffic from I-64 until the bridge-tunnel widening is complete.
The cameras would also be located in other key areas around the interstate, including two on Mallory Street, near Segar Avenue, as well as a signal and traffic light at Mallory near the bridge. The second location would be at Mallory Street near the bridge, which would eliminate the need for a police officer to be stationed there every weekday.
Those lights would be red for three hours per weekday only, from 3-6 p.m.
Mitchell recommended keeping that officer stationed at the Mallory bridge during the interim, as the traffic-reducing measures have cut traffic in the Phoebus area by more than half. He projects that new measures would create improvements in traffic backups downtown.
Other areas would be evaluated for the red-light cameras as well. Parts of Mercury Boulevard near Phoebus experience interstate-related backups. The state criteria for evaluating where cameras can go includes:
- Accident rate of an intersection
- Rate of red light violations
- Difficulty experienced by law-enforcement officers to apprehend violators
- Ability of law-enforcement officers to apprehend violators safely with a reasonable distance from the violation
The proposal is expected to come before City Council for a vote at the Jan. 25 meeting.