Motorists mistake traffic sensors for cameras

Motorists mistake traffic sensors for cameras

March 19th, 2011 by Chris Carroll in News

New traffic sensors regulate traffic lights on Dayton Boulevard. Staff Photo by Angela Lewis/Chattanooga Times Free Press

New traffic sensors regulate traffic lights on Dayton...

They're not always watching you.

At four intersections in Red Bank, traffic-regulating sensors have confused people into thinking the city has beefed up its traffic-camera enforcement.

"They look a lot like traffic cameras," said Jack Wood, the Red Bank branch president of the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce. "But now we know they're not."

The white-capped overlords of the intersection share a resemblance to Red Bank's three sets of traffic cameras that snap when violators speed or run a red light, but officials say they're nothing of the sort.

"They are infrared sensors that send a beam that help to identify when traffic backs up at an intersection," Police Chief Tim Christol said. "There has been a lot of confusion, but nothing like a real uproar."

All the sensors - and traffic cameras - are at intersections with Dayton Boulevard. With the sensors, when a side-street motorist wants to turn onto Dayton Boulevard, the devices activate a red light to stop traffic so the driver has a clear left turn, Christol said.



• Browntown Road

• Leawood Road

• Martin Road

• Newberry Road


• Ashland Terrace

• Morrison Springs Road

• Signal Mountain Road

Note: All the roads intersect with Dayton Boulevard.

Last year, the sensors were part of a $271,000 stimulus project the federal government awarded Red Bank. The upgrade also included energy-efficient LED stoplight bulbs and "mast arms" that canceled old clutter.

Far from toughening the traffic-camera program, Mayor Monty Millard has tried to get rid of it. Last December, he failed to muscle the Arizona-based company that supplies the cameras into releasing Red Bank from a 12-year contract extension.

"With Monty in there, I don't think we have to worry about any new cameras at all," Wood said.

Millard faces re-election in 2012, one year before Red Bank officially can take down the cameras without incurring a financial penalty, according to the contract. Either party can cancel the contract on each three-year anniversary of its signing - 2013, 2016, 2019 or 2022.