COLUMBIA — It’s been more than two years since the City Council authorized the city to pursue red-light cameras, and not a single camera is installed. That’s the disappointment Mayor Darwin Hindman and the council signaled to LaserCraft, the company that has spent nearly a year in negotiations with the city to install red-light camera systems.
The city will end its negotiations with LaserCraft and pursue other companies who can “move it along more quickly,” City Manager Bill Watkins said at his regular news conference Friday morning.
With more than two years of proposals and negotiations behind them, time is of the essence for city officials who want to implement the system quickly.
“I think that there will be great urgency in getting these installed,” Hindman said. “I hope no one gets killed in the meantime.”
Assistant City Manager Tony St. Romaine said if the council chooses to rescind the agreement with LaserCraft at Monday night’s meeting, the staff will draft a request for proposals this month and hopefully have a new company selected by the end of March. A camera system won’t come to fruition until next summer.
The troubles with installing the red-light camera system have been a mounting drama. The process of implementing cameras to enforce red-light rules in Columbia began in August 2006 after the council authorized the city to request proposals for installing and operating the project.
One year later, in August 2007, the city and LaserCraft began working together on a proposal. Earlier this year, LaserCraft conducted studies of several intersections, but St. Romaine said the company let deadlines slip and changes within their administration affected how the city communicated with the company.
A final deadline was set to have cameras up by the end of this year, but after that fell through, both the city and LaserCraft decided it would be in both parties' interest to part ways.
“We lost considerable faith in their ability,” St. Romaine said.