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Senate panel votes to stop installation of speed-monitoring cameras from Atchafalaya Basin bridge

1 month 3 weeks 2 days ago Thursday, April 04 2024 Apr 4, 2024 April 04, 2024 10:48 AM April 04, 2024 in News

BATON ROUGE — A Senate committee voted to stop the installation of speed-monitoring cameras along the Atchafalaya Basin bridge between Baton Rouge and Lafayette after hearing from witnesses who feared that the biggest benefactor would be the company operating the system.

The Senate Transportation, Highway and Public Works Committee voted unanimously Wednesday to reverse legislation that would have doubled fines and installed camera safety devices on the Interstate 10 bridge. The idea must still be approved by the full Senate and the state House.

Sens. Caleb Kleinpeter, R-Port Allen, and Blake Miguez, R-New Iberia, say they raised their proposal at the request of sheriffs and district attorneys that cover Iberville and St. Martin parishes. They said the fines, which could total $700, would be too high for most drivers, and state and local officials said most of the money would go to the vendor.

“We have to properly fund our criminal justice system,” said Miguez. “We want to make sure
we deter crime in this state and make sure that we have a police presence.”

Lawmakers voted in 2022 to designate the Atchafalaya Basin bridge a highway safety corridor and install speed monitors and additional speed limit signs. A third phase would include the installation of speed-monitoring cameras, and authorize an increase in fines.

“The last thing we need to do is make sure that these funds go towards a private entity and not straight to our locals," Miguez said.

Witnesses also said the state would benefit from having police on the bridge because officers can also detect other crimes.

This year's proposal would only stop the camera program. Other parts of the 2022 safety initiative would remain in place.

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