Tampa red light cameras: council takes action on short yellow lights following 10 News investigation

12:03 AM, May 18, 2013   |    comments
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Find 10 News Investigator Noah Pransky on Facebook or follow his updates on Twitter. Send your story tips to noah@wtsp.com.

TAMPA, Fla. -- Mayor Bob Buckhorn won't talk about Tampa's short yellow lights - among the shortest in all of Tampa Bay - but at least one councilwoman wants the city to take a closer look at the federal guidelines 10 News identified in its short yellow lights investigation.

WATCH: Initial 10 News Short Yellows Investigation
UPDATE: 10 News catches up with Mayor Buckhorn

City councilwoman Lisa Montelione said she would ask staff to provide a red light camera (RLC) report for a June 20 council workshop.  She also wanted staff to review the USDOT guidelines for yellow lights that 10 News pointed out were being ignored across Tampa Bay.

FDOT mandates a 4.0-second yellow interval for a 40mph roadway, but Tampa says it has several lights set to 3.9 seconds because of its strict interpretation of an engineering formula.

An FDOT engineer confirmed for the city that the intersections of Hillsborough/Nebraska and 50th/Adamo are both not "the preferred 4.0 seconds shown on the (FDOT) chart." Meanwhile, USDOT standards suggest yellow light intervals at those key intersections should be in the 4.5/5.0 ballpark.

Last year, Tampa raked in $2.6 million from 15 RLC intersections.  In all, the citations raised $7.6 million, with more than half of the money going to the state.

Mayor Bob Buckhorn has repeatedly refused interview requests on the topic, as an administration spokesperson says lengthening yellow lights "is an engineering decision."

However, FDOT tells 10 News that any city that wishes to extend its yellow lights by an additional half-second to accommodate older drivers or large trucks, as recommended by the USDOT, would be allowed to.

Montelione said she was turned on to the story by a constituent who asked her on Twitter about the 10 News investigation.

A day earlier, Hillsborough County commissioners instructed staff to analyze its six red-light camera intersections as well as the USDOT guidelines.

In St. Petersburg, where several small yellow-light "malfunctions" plagued red-light camera intersections and other lights are set well below federal guidelines, Councilman Charlie Gerdes said he would use the 10 News report to once again push for longer yellow lights.
 

10 NEWS' YELLOW LIGHT INVESTIGATION:

5/15/13
- Hillsborough Commission wants to review yellow lengths; Tampa mayor does not
5/14/13 - Legislators acting quickly following 10 News investigation
5/13/13 - Florida shortened yellow light lengths, driving up red-light camera revenues

Find 10 News Investigator Noah Pransky on Facebook or follow his updates on Twitter. Send your story tips to noah@wtsp.com.

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