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Decatur City Commission approves traffic cameras in school zones

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Decatur City Commission approves traffic cameras in school zones

Crossing guard Theresa Stephens (left) talks to a young student on the way to school as she waits for the traffic light to change at the intersection of S. Candler St. and Kirk Rd. in Decatur during the Big Walk on South Candler event in 2016. FILE PHOTO: Jonathan Phillips

This story has been updated. 

Decatur, GA — The Decatur City Commission, at its Feb. 6 meeting, approved an agreement with Blue Line Solutions to create a school zone speed enforcement program to install traffic cameras in some of the city’s school zones.

“The goal of the program is to increase roadway safety in five school zones within the city of Decatur by reducing the number of speeding vehicles,” Police Chief Scott Richards said. “A reduction in speeding vehicles reduces the likelihood of serious crashes and injuries, especially for children who are walking, biking and riding to and from school each day.”

In school zones, speeding means driving 11 miles per hour or more over the posted speed limit of 25 miles per hour, Richards said.

“The identified school zones are Scott Boulevard in front of Westchester Elementary, Clairemont Avenue near Clairemont Elementary, Church Street near Clairemont Elementary, South Candler Street near Winnona Park Elementary, and West College Avenue in front of Beacon Hill Middle School,” he added.

Other school zones may be considered after evaluating the program in the proposed five zones. The city has 22 school zones in total.

Speed studies were conducted in the five school zones over five days, and they showed a high number of speeders during the morning and afternoon school zone periods.

“The city considered proposals from three vendors that provide school zone speed enforcement programs,” Richards said. “While all the programs are similar, Blue Line Solutions emphasized efforts that are consistent with the city’s goals, including driver education, positive changes to driver behavior and safety improvements.”

He added that instituting an automated speed enforcement program will increase student and community safety, improve overall traffic safety and change driver behavior.

“A study of 40 school zones in Georgia reported an overall 91% reduction in speeders within the first 90 days of the program,” Richards said.

Once the cameras are installed, there will be a 30-day warning period. During that time, violators will receive a warning citation in the mail. After the warning period, citations would be $75 for the first offense and $125 for the second offense and beyond. An additional court cost of $25 could be added to a violation.

The cameras would only be operated when school is in session.

“The hours of enforcement will be 45 minutes before school begins and 15 minutes after school begins in the morning and 15 minutes before school ends to 45 minutes after school ends in the afternoon,” Richards told Decaturish.

The city anticipates it will take about six to eight months for the program to be fully implemented.

“Blue Line Solutions will handle the installation of the cameras once the permits are approved by the Georgia Department of Transportation,” Richards said.

The program is violator funded, and any proceeds have to be used to fund local law enforcement or public safety initiatives.

“Our intent…is to get a ruling from the city attorney on what his interpretation of public safety initiative is because it’s very broad and [the law] does not define what that is,” Richards said. “I want to make sure that we are within the letter of the law and get his input before we do anything with the funds.”

In other business, the city commission approved alcoholic beverage licenses for three local businesses — BB.Q Chicken-Decatur, Cap’t Loui-Decatur and The Cereal Lab.

BB.Q Chicken-Decatur will feature Korean-style chicken wings and street food items. The restaurant is located at 319 W. Ponce de Leon Ave., suite 40, in the former location of Pho King Vietnamese restaurant, Planning and Economic Development Director Angela Threadgill wrote in a memo.

The restaurant sought an alcoholic beverage license for beer, wine and spirituous liquor beverages for consumption on premises.

Cap’t Loui-Decatur will feature a seafood boil menu and is located at 319 W. Ponce de Leon Ave., suite 10, which was previously Highland Bakery. The franchisee owner sought an alcoholic beverage license for beer, wine and spirituous liquor beverages for consumption on premises.

The Cereal Lab, located at 335 W. Ponce de Leon Ave., suite D. The business plans to expand its offerings to include wine and spirituous liquor beverages for consumption on premises. The Cereal Lab will continue to offer its signature dessert of ice cream with cereal toppings.

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