The Chattanooga Municipal Court Clerk’s office will order fines refunded for 176 motorists who were ticketed for running an improperly timed traffic light at M.L. King Boulevard and Pine Street.
“I’m going to dismiss them, and the city is going to refund their money back,” Municipal Court Judge Russell Bean said.
Officials realized a traffic light at the intersection of M.L. King Boulevard and Pine Street was not timed correctly when a man ticketed as a result of a traffic camera for running the light raised the issue in court.
Judge Bean and city traffic engineer John Van Winkle investigated the intersection and discovered that the yellow light for motorists turning left onto Pine Street from east M.L King was too short.
Mr. Van Winkle said the yellow light should have been illuminated for almost four seconds, but it was on only for three.
“We found the problem and corrected it that day,” he said. “We are committed to providing accurate and fair handling of these citations, and if we find an error we intend to correct it.”
The city will refund all $50 fines for motorists cited for running the light within a second of the light turning red, Mr. Van Winkle said.
City Chief Financial Officer Daisy Madison said she is in the process of notifying affected motorists that they will get a refund.
“I am working on that right now,” she said. “We will get (checks) out as soon as possible.”
Chattanooga contracts with LaserCraft Inc., which provides and maintains the cameras. The city and the Norcross, Ga.-based company, share a portion of each $50 fine that results from a citation. How the fine is split depends on the type of camera, officials said.
Ms. Madison said she is trying to determine if LaserCraft will refund its portion of the fines to the city.
Mr. Van Winkle said the city’s traffic lights typically are set based on how long it takes a vehicle to pass through the intersection using a formula that takes into account the width of the intersection, speed limit, amount of traffic and whether the intersection is on a hill.
He and Judge Bean said safety is the number one goal.
“I am convinced after speaking with the city and after speaking with LaserCraft (that) they are interested in safety and saving lives,” Judge Bean said.
Officials at LaserCraft did not return calls Wednesday seeking comment.