Well, well, well, the City of Houston announced over the weekend that
our long, horrible nightmare is over ding dong the wicked witch is dead they have settled their lawsuit with American Traffic Solutions to rid us of the scourge red-light traffic cameras FOREVER once and for all.
Setting aside for the moment the fairy tale-like hyperbole, the city has agreed to pay ATS $4.78 million to settle their dispute over the agreement they had with the company to keep the red lights operating. City council approved ending the red-light camera program after a vote by Houstonians in November 2010 rejected them. We wrote about the entire fiasco in a September cover story.
According to a press release from the Mayor's office, the settlement cash will come from previously collected fines held in escrow as well as money from fines issued prior to the cameras being taken offline but still owed to the city. They estimate the amount still owed by traffic scofflaws to be around $25 million.
We have to wonder how easy it will be to collect fines from a traffic program that was overwhelmingly shot down by voters.
City council still has to approve the settlement, which is on the current agenda. Once they do, ATS will receive $2.3 million in cash up front and another $2.4 million paid over three years, we assume on some sort of installment plan like you get from Sears when you buy a washer and dryer. ATS will then remove all the cameras so anyone who thinks the government is secretly spying on them with said lenses can be put at ease for the moment.