A state lawmaker whose vehicle was shown speeding by a traffic camera in upper East Tennessee co-sponsored a bill to take that camera down this year.
Rep. Jon Lundberg (R-Bristol) was cited for driving 60 miles an hour in a 45 mile-per-hour zone while driving in Bluff City in 2010, just weeks before voters elected him to a third election. The photo-enforced traffic cameras did not show images of the driver, and Lundberg said an employee of his public relations firm was driving the company vehicle at the time.
The traffic camera speeding ticket “has absolutely zero effect” on his decision to sponsor the bill, Lundberg told The City Paper. “In fact, until you said that, I completely forgot about that.”
Lundberg was cited after his 1998 Ford F15 was pictured driving 15-miles over the speed limit just after lunchtime on Oct. 21, 2010. The $90 fine was paid. Because the traffic camera images do not include a photo of the driver, the ticket is considered a non-moving infraction.
The stretch of road leading up to the photo-enforced intersection had been a point of controversy a month before Lundberg’s company vehicle sped through the intersection. Local city officials were figuring out when and whether to change speed limits leading up to the site in reaction to a new ban freshly approved by lawmakers that spring to space out speed reductions and photo-enforced cameras.
The cameras are still a sore spot to this day, said Lundberg. He said he receives constant complaints that the traffic cameras are a deterrent for travelers wanting to visit the Bristol Motor Speedway in his district. He said he is also worried about traffic crashes at the site of the cameras.
This year’s measure to do away with the cameras was sponsored by Rep. Tim Hill, a freshman lawmaker whose district shares parts of Sullivan County with Lundberg and encompases Bluff City.
Narrowly written to apply only in Bluff City, the bill would have made the two traffic cameras in the city illegal once its contract with the provider expired in late 2014.
“It would be like a race track out there again,” said Judy Dulaney, the city manager for Bluff City who wants to keep the traffic cameras in place.
She said she did not know a vehicle owned by Lundberg was caught by one of the speed cameras, but said she doubted that would be the reason for attention on her city’s cameras.
“I think there’s more important things for them to do than to try to intervene in local traffic control,” she said.
In other legislation during the session, Lundberg notably got a resolution passed honoring his own PR firm.