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Suwanee may join light fight

SUWANEE - Suwanee officials could become the first in the state to ticket red-light runners at an interstate overpass.

The City Council will decide next week if the city will become the sixth local government to approve the use of cameras to fight traffic violations and the fifth to begin using the system in Gwinnett.

The most dangerous intersection on its proposed list of locations is at the Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road overpass for Interstate 85.

"We're going through a state process to see if it's even possible," Mayor Nick Masino said of the location.

On many of the seven intersections where tickets are now being issued through the technology, the local government had to reach an agreement with the state Department of Transportation because that agency has to approve any project along a state highway.

But the technology has never been tried at an interstate, DOT spokeswoman Teri Pope said.

"We would have jurisdiction to bless it because it would be put on our right of way," Pope said, explaining that the DOT would make sure the technology wouldn't interfere with traffic signal equipment or jeopardize safety at the intersection.

She said she's familiar with the Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road exit.

"People run it (the light) all the time. It drives me crazy," she said.

Masino said city officials have been studying the technology for nearly a year and have watched as other local jurisdictions began using it.

Gwinnett County police along with departments in Duluth, Lilburn and Snellville are using the cameras to send tickets. The technology was approved in Norcross but the project is on hold.

"All the research we've seen shows that this thing has a dramatic decrease in T-bone accidents," Masino said. "People are obviously happy with what the cities are doing. The message we get is we're doing the right thing."

According to a city official, the City Council will consider the technology after a public hearing at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.

If it is approved, the city could decide which of the six intersections will get cameras in January and the first warnings could go out as early as February.