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Red-light cameras return
to Duluth

DULUTH - The first camera to catch red-light runners in Gwinnett will be reactivated.

Duluth's City Council voted Monday to reinstate its photographic enforcement program about four months after turning the cameras off.

"I'm glad we're bringing them back," Mayor Nancy Harris said. "I know it made me a better driver. ... I think everyone gets more aware."

Five years ago, Duluth was the first local government to put cameras up to catch red-light runners and send the tickets in the mail.

The county and four other cities soon followed suit, but earlier this year, a new state law allowed an extra second to the amber phase of a traffic signal, causing the number of citations to decrease greatly.

By the end of March, all five cities decided to turn the cameras off because the revenue in fines were no longer covering the cost, leaving only the county government using the technology.

But Norcross-based Lasercraft, which supplied the governments with the equipment, dropped its prices to make the service more affordable.

Duluth City Manager Phil McLemore said the price dropped from $3,600 per camera to $1,200 per camera.

"We're trying to break even. That's our goal," McLemore said, adding that the economic downturn's impact on the city leaves little room in the budget. "We can't afford to subsidize it and keep our employees at the same time."

The city council rejected a proposal to use the cameras, which were never brought down, for enforcement at three intersections. Instead, they will be turned on at the county's first intersection - the one the police chief deemed the most dangerous - at Peachtree Industrial Boulevard and Pleasant Hill Road.

"It was proven when we had them the first time that it reduced accidents," Harris said.

Last month, Lilburn's City Council voted to turn their cameras back on along U.S. Highway 29 at Indian Trail-Lilburn and Beaver Ruin roads.

In Norcross, the new pricing scheme has prompted the council to consider reviving its program, Mayor Bucky Johnson said. Suwanee's city manager said there is no discussion on the topic there.

Snellville Mayor Jerry Oberholtzer said he would mull flipping on the cameras in the center of town - at the intersection of U.S. Highway 78 and Ga. Highway 124 - but not at other locations.