Jul 112012
 

Diana Bajoie

One of the most notorious speed traps in New Orleans may get a little less misleading, based on a proposal to eliminate a 25-mph section of Jackson Avenue and set the limit along the entire thoroughfare at 35 mph.

The speed limit on Jackson from St. Charles to Tchoupitoulas is 25 mph, despite the fact that the road is divided and that most New Orleans drivers expect 35-mph speed limits on divided roadways. A traffic camera on Jackson generated approximately 25,000 tickets in 2011 — the second-highest tally among the 30 cameras in place at the time, and fully 10 percent of the total citywide.

On the agenda for Thursday’s City Council meeting, interim District B Councilwoman Diana Bajoie is proposing raising the speed limit to 35 mph. The cameras will still be there, as will the school zones, but at least the street will become consistent with others, Bajoie said.

The speed limit on Jackson is already 35 on the Central City side of St. Charles Avenue, Bajoie noted — even though the street there is narrower.

“You don’t want to create speed traps. My understanding is that the cameras were put there for safety reasons, not to generate money,” Bajoie said. “We need to make sure it’s used in that way.”

Bajoie said she’s received very little opposition to the proposed change, perhaps just one letter. The City Council meets at 10 a.m. Thursday.

  • Carrie Fisher

    Great idea- and it would also be good if the school zones were only enforced when schools are in session, and, if the blinking school zone lights were adjusted for daylight savings time.

  • Owen Courreges

    “You don’t want to create speed traps. My understanding is that the cameras were put there for safety reasons, not to generate money,”

    She’s kidding, right? They put cameras next a *former school* in one case (the erstwhile Audubon Primary, now “Company Burger” and a Yoga studio) and she’s actually buying the line that these cameras were placed for safety reasons?

    If these were about safety, there are many ways the city could have made the cameras revenue-neutral to eliminate all doubt. They could have, for example, maintained the status quo whereby camera violations were criminal violations, thus providing due process protections afforded to ordinary traffic tickets (which I understand wind up being roughly break-even for the city). Since the city actively changed the status of moving violations when it drafted the camera ordinance (creating a new offense: a “civil” moving violation), we can assume that the cameras are about money.

    I agree that the speed limit on Jackson should be 35 mph, but I’d rather see the cameras gone than changes to the speed limit. As usual, the city only changes the things that protect the revenue stream from the cameras.

    It it also worth noting that although the city is proposing speed limit changes and is raising the threashold for violations, it is simultaneously proposing to extend school zone hours to excessive levels so that the cameras will be ticketing for school zone violations for longer periods. Clearly, the city is trying to ensure that the revenue from the cameras is protected. The city is doing something for the benefit of motorists its right hand while picking their pockets with the left.

    • david

      Please explain ” to extend school zone hours to excessive levels.” Thank you.

      • Owen Courreges

        david,

        Extending school zone hours from 75 minutes to 120 minutes (two hours). I think the current school zone hours are adequate and extending them to two hours is excessive, particularly when the change was proposed in a press release regarding changes to the automated traffic enforcement program.

        • This is an attempt to standardize school zones across the city because of different school hours across the city. Having the same hours everywhere should make it more predictable for motorists.

    • Rousseau

      Ahem, Mr. Courreges, Ms. Bajoie was clearly employing a rhetorical device in stating an opponents ridiculous explanation for adopting a particluar position or adhering to a certain course of action before providing the argument for opposition. But I guess I should not be surprised to see your clulessness once again exhibited in this equally cluless forum.

      • Matt

        Hey guys! This guy is smarter than all of us! Don’t bother posting anymore because we are all clueless!

      • Owen Courreges

        Rousseau,

        That’s not readily evident from the text alone, but to be fair, I’ll acknowledge that’s what she meant if and when she announces her opposition to traffic cameras.

  • Glenn

    can I get my $75 back? I was going 32mph in Dec 2011.

    • Nate

      No refunds on the dummy tax, sir.

  • hdhouse

    This is a residential street with many children in the area. The limit should not be increased above 25mph. Our temporary CP needs to get a clue.

    • Siglos

      There are children on every street, so why is it OK to go 35 on St. Charles or 30 on Tchopitoulas? Jackson is a major street and drivers are deliberately tricked into thinking it’s 35 mph because all other similar streets in the city are 35 (which the city-installed signs around town tell us!). This speed trap is NOT about safety, it’s about money.

    • Owen Courreges

      hdhouse,

      That’s ridiculous. It’s a major street and there are streets with 35 mph speed limits everywhere (including Jackson past St. Charles). 35 mph is not excessively fast; many residential neighborhoods (with children) have speed limits in the 30-35 mph range. As currently set the speed limit is an exception to the general rule and there’s no clear justification for it.

  • Siglos

    That stretch of Jackson is nothing but a speed-trap scam. I refuse to drive on it all. The ONLY reason for the 25 mph limit is to generate income. It’s never been about “safety.” This is a classic speed-trap scenario: one section of a road is given a lower speed limit for no reason … except in this case, the section they chose is four lanes and divided, while the two-lane non-divided section is 35 mph. Scam, scam, scam!

  • Thacky88

    Just wait until Trinity hears about this, they practically own the block. I suspect they had the speed limit reduced to 25 in the first place. I got my ticket there for doing a whopping 31mph! (I’m such a criminal, shame on me!)

    On another note, if the speed cameras were really about safety, then they would be placed in the hood, not just the fancy Uptown neighborhoods.

  • Kerry L

    How about since bajoie is the new council person, she wants to put it back to 35 because her children don’t go to school on Jackson. Stacy head pushed for the lower speed because se had a personal interest since her kid attended trinity – right in the middle of the dropped speed limit.

  • Max

    25 mph is ridiculous and I’ve also believed this to be a Trinity doing, but I’d prefer 30 mph instead of 35. The neutral ground is pretty narrow on this stretch of Jackson and this makes left turns a hazard. There’s enough neutral ground room on streets like Napoleon, St. Charles, Claiborne, etc. to make a left turn and have the vehicle safely wait to make get across the other side or make the U without having either end sticking out into traffic. At 35, drivers from both directions will be driving faster down the street and increasing accidents.

    That’s not to whine and say “hey, let’s have the speed limit at 10 mph because that’ll really decrease accidents!” I’d like to see the city installed signs we complain about taken down so we aren’t used to the idea that “divided streets are all 35mph.” Not all divided streets are equal, so please don’t treat them all the same.

    • Owen Courreges

      Max,

      The default speed limit on Jackson is actually supposed to be 30 mph, but there’s an unintended ambiguity in the law. Jackson is listed as a “through street” on Schedule II, which gives it a default speed limit of 30 mph. However, Jackson is also a boulevard between St. Charles and Tchoupitulas because it is divided by a neutral ground, and boulevards have a default speed limit of 35 mph unless posted otherwise. However, because ambiguities favor the motorist, the speed limit would default at 35 mph if not for the signage. One wishes the city would just post speed limit signs on all major streets — it would certainly make things clearer.

      That said, the difference between 30 and 35 isn’t that great and I don’t think raises a significant safety concern, but on the other hand, setting the speed limit at 30 mph would at least make it consistent on both sides of St. Charles.

  • The 25 mph limit is more likely a relic of the time before the Tchoupitoulas corridor when trucks used Jackson to access the port. It was at one time a major truck route on this stretch and a 25 mph would have calmed this traffic. It was certainly not changed for the camera.