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Dear Yo: If you are to add traffic cameras, then reduce traffic lights

By Todd Franko (Contact)

Published March 15, 2011

Untitled document

Youngstown is considering cameras to catch speeders and stop-light violators.

Pardon the cynicism, but it comes off too much as a cash grab -- especially on the heels of council demanding the need to hire a parks director and up to 5 planning directors despite a budget that barely allows them to hire an intern.

Better evidence of it being a cash grab is how the plan started as a school safety measure, but is now becoming an idea that deserves usage in other parts of the city, say some councilmen.

Here's the story in today's Vindy.

I like cameras in school zones. I like them around hospitals.

But general use in and around the city, I disagree with, and that's where governments lose this debate with its citizenry.

The majority of the public has often come down against these when the public gets the chance to vote. (See below). We won't get that here.

I drive several Youngstown corridors for work, for fun, for my kids, etc. I've wasted more of my life at the city's intersections than I care to count.

Twenty percent of the downtown traffic lights could be eliminated and not one life would be jeopardized. I sit at them and too often count no person or car in sight as I sit. The worst is this 4-light monstrosity at Front Street and Vindicator Square. Boardman and Hazel is mind-numbing, too.

And it's delightful to sit at Williamson and Erie at 11 p.m. after a downtown event. The feeling there is that the only safety at risk is my own. 

We're a city of 60,000 people. Sure, you can add 20,000 people daily for those who work or go to school or visit here, but then you'd have to subtract the 20,000 city residents who do not drive due to age, economics, mental abilities or legal repercussions.
We are not a 60,000-person suburb on the way to a million-person city -- like a Columbus suburb. 

And yet we have a traffic light system that controls us like we're a 90,000-person city.

Here would be a deal for the city to consider to appease motorists: For every camera put in, remove three stoplights.

If you are work hard to penalize traffic, then work just as hard to free it up, too.
Here's some topic fodder below.

Here's a recent story from The Plain Dealer's driving dean, John Horton. He said cameras have been voted down 15-0 when the issue has been taken to the ballot box. In 15 towns where voters have decided, 15 towns have said no.

Newark just finished its first year with red-light cameras in 10 high-concern areas. The result: 93,000 citations, $3 million in revenue and a 23-percent drop in accidents.

Missouri has worked hard from the statehouse to local jurisdictions regulate how cameras can be used. In one study, fewer people ran red lights in areas with cameras, but there was also a 14 percent increase in overall crashes at those intersections.

What do you think?


1Askmeificare(1042 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

Why would council consider this?

COUNCILWOMAN ANNIE GILLIAM Thank you for working for US!!








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2CompMan(148 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

Driving into Youngstown is done only as a necessity for destination cultural and musical events or where one can zoom by on 680 / 711. Just ask Bertram. Video cameras around the events would be more productive to spot the nightly demons rise from hell. Many have advised family members to treat stop lights after dark like a 4 way stop sign and then proceed to avoid a potential mugging. Mayor Jay "Where Da People Go" Williams and Jimmie 'Mumbles $1 Million" Hughes wonder why and what is wrong on declining population. Maybe Melfi kidnapped them to hold for ransom monies due Girard.

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3bobhogue(102 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

Certainly there are some signals that need to be removed even without any consideration of the speed cameras. And many others need to be upgraded to have at least a bit of intelligence by having traffic sensors installed on the streets. I think many signals are without those sensors, and so they go through the same mindless sequence of light changes regardless of time of day or traffic load.

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4author50(1121 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

How about cameras on all the public employees and the elected officials showing the people what they REALLY do?

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5computer_rick(137 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

A) The cameras will get installed. No matter what, they will go in. All of Youngstown could rise up en masse against them, and they would get installed. Tuff...

B) I love it. Just another reason I can give for not driving through. "Nope" I will say "I refuse to drive through an area that installs cameras just to nail the odd suburbanite who stupidly wanders into town for a meal at the MVR.

C) Seeing as how the majority of cars driven by the residents of Youngstown proper do not bother to register or license their vehicles, this is obviously just another way of getting cash off of "us folk" who do not live in Youngstown, but have a job (!?!?!) and register our cars, and buy insurance (?!?!?!?) and may just drive thorugh on our way to some sick relatives house who refuses to move.

Also, great way to get all those "paranoid" suburbanites who just do rolling stops at all the red lights in Youngstown, for fear that the crew walking up the sidewalk on our right, or that car driving towards us at 10 pm well after dark, with its headlight turned off, may just turn us into another story on the morning news... (not that this EVER happens, with Mistah Jimmy in charge...)

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6NoBS(2647 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

Finally, something I agree with! When you're the only car in sight in all four directions, waiting for a timer to click around so you can go, and you know that if you go one second early you'll get a ticket in the mail, it's clearly not about safety, but rather it's about the money. I like the idea of removing three traffic lights for every traffic cam installation - I think most of the lights in the area should be removed anyway, and those that are left should be traffic-actuated. Let's face it, downtown Youngstown cannot justify even having any traffic lights, except for an hour or so in the morning, and an hour or so in the late afternoon. Aside from the main drags, the neighborhoods proximal to downtown NEVER get enough traffic to warrant traffic lights in operation. Stop signs would suffice.

Merchants in Girard suffered a loss of business (whether city hall will admit it or not) when it just had one speed cam along 422. I know a few merchants there, and they've told me so. Traffic cams and speed cams are universally praised by politicians and universally despised by the general public. I don't think Youngstown can afford to alienate even one person willing to come and spend money downtown.

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7Photoman(1223 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

The Missouri study which showed an increase of vehicular crashes at intersections with cameras is consistent with other studies done in various states-a driver spots the camera at the last moment and suddenly applies his brakes and then is rear-ended. Politicians smile and act like they're listening when they really don't care what the public thinks---their goal is to get press and to be reelected. The cameras will go in and merchants will pay the price.

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8mcluvin(72 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

So you don't like being watched? And apparently you want to be allowed to speed. Particularly in School Zones. You guys are probably the ones that get mad because the cop pulls you over for speeding and gives him an attitude. You don't HAVE to come to Youngstown. Go do you speeding in Poland Village see how that works out for ya.

You cant just remove traffic lights.Especially the "4-light monstrosity at Front Street and Vindicator Square." It has no sight distance from Front. Also what does population have to do with the need for Traffic Lights? The need for traffic lights are based on traffic flows not how man residents a city has.

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9Rockabilly(93 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

It's not that complicated. Don't speed or run red lights and you won't get a ticket.

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10NoBS(2647 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

Mcluvin, get a clue - nobody is even talking about what you're complaining about. How is it you don't understand that population equals traffic on the roads?

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11mcluvin(72 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

Nobody "lives" at the intersection of South Ave. and 224 guess we don't need a light there. The point is that there are 6 situations that would call for a traffic ligh,t in order to remove a light you must not meet any of them. If the intersection meets just one of them you cannot remove the traffic light. Guess what is NOT included in the 6......cmon...... Correct! Population of the City where the light is installed. Very good! Guess what else is NOT on the list? ......Cmon dont be shy.... Yes! A fish wraps editorial opinion on whether the light should exist or not.....

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12NoBS(2647 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

Mcluvin, are you being deliberately obtuse, or does it come natural to you?

Let's put traffic lights at each and every intersection, even if only two cars a day go through it. And let's time them so you catch all the lights red while we're at it. Will that make you happy? Good - you can pay to install them and you can pay to maintain them and you can pay to operate them.

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13mcluvin(72 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

BS: I do not think I am being obtuse. I am simply stating that you must warrent the removal of a signal. There are specific guidelines set foth that either permit or not permit a traffic signal to exist at an intersection. You can't just remove them because people feel that they are inconvienced by them. And like the poster above said. If you don't speed or run red lights it is highly likely that you will not even know that cameras exist. Does that clear things up for ya? I can't type any slower.

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14mcluvin(72 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

It is warrants sorry for the typo. Spell check has spoiled me....perhaps they will do studies at the intersections in question....

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