The Superior City Council is pumping the brakes on a proposed trial run for a traffic camera system; but, that doesn't mean that the plan is dead.

The suggested trial would have happened in June.  Under terms that were discussed, the practice run would have allowed city leaders and law enforcement a chance to see how the cameras work, what benefit they might have, and what obstacles would need to be addressed.

That trial run will have wait just a bit longer. At their meeting on May 19, the Superior Public Safety Committee determined that they still had more questions than answers before they could proceed.

The license plate-registering traffic cameras would be part of a pre-emptive traffic signal system that law enforcement, fire department, and public safety officials are proposing for the city.  According to the Superior Telegram [paywall], that system would be of great use to various departments:

"The preemption system would allow all emergency vehicles in Superior to disrupt the city's 21 traffic signals to clear intersections when responding to an emergency."

A system like this is already in place in other communities - including Duluth.

While city leaders - EMT, law enforcement, and the council - are on board with such a system, the discussion is about "how big a priority the system is" and how big (i.e. what does it encompass) of a system to install.

Estimated cost for just a preemptive traffic signal system for Superior would be "around $200,000". Costs would (obviously) go up if other, additional elements were added - like the license plate-registering traffic cameras.

Those plate-registering cameras aren't novel in our area, either.  Superior Police Chief Nicholas Alexander offered:

"Duluth has between 150 and 180 cameras operating on its pubic thoroughfares....including two mobile units in squad cars.  [The chief] said they have had automated license plate readers for at least five years.  [Additionally,] there are 51 cities in Wisconsin that utilize such cameras, according to the Wisconsin ALPR Association member list."

If the city does go forward with the plan, there could be the potential for using some federal funds to make it happen.  Superior is still sitting on "$500,000 in American Rescue Plan Act dollars [that have] not yet [been] allocated".

Either way, city leaders feel they need to do something.  Linda Cadotte, the Director of Parks, Recreation, and Forestry for the City of Superior summarized it this way:

"I feel like every single time something happens, social media blows up [asking] 'why doesn't the city have cameras?'."

The Superior City Council will re-address the issue at their next meeting in June.

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