Litigation continues between the City of Houston and the company that provided red light cameras over whether the city is liable for breaking the contract to turn the cameras off.
Houston City Council put the brakes on red light cameras for good back in August. But a legal fight followed with American Traffic Solutions, the manufacturer of the cameras, over breach of contract claims. ATS is seeking $25 million in damages from the city.
Janice Evans, a spokesperson for Houston Mayor Annise Parker, said: "The cameras are off and cannot be turned back on. Whether they're actually physically still there or not, I had been told that some of them were actually coming down. But, it's beyond that. City council has acted. They've rescinded the ordinance that allowed the city to have the cameras. So, there is no way, that the city can have red light cameras again, because there's no ordinance that exists to allow them anymore."
No agreement has been reached, and the city stands by its original position that the amount owed to ATS is nowhere near what the company says it is. Evans added that there is no way to determine how long the court battle will take. "No, not at this point, but you need to separate the two issues. There's the legal fight, and then there was the council action regarding the cameras. And that ordinance has been rescinded and it no longer exists, and in the meantime then, the legal fight which is separate, is ongoing and will continue."
Mediation efforts were attempted to no avail, but ATS spokesperson Charles Territo said they were encouraged by a preliminary ruling from Federal Judge Lynn Hughes. "The judge has ruled that our contract is still valid," he said. "And so we hope that at some point, we can reach a conclusion to this chapter."
Read more TN coverage about Houston's red light traffic cameras here.
The City of Houston and its partners have launched a comprehensive, city-wide electric vehicle program -- which not only adds EVs to the city fleet, but will install 50 public charging stations around the city.
It's called Houston Drives Electric, a city program that implements clean and economic driving alternatives. The HEB Buffalo Market in southwest Houston is now home to the Freedom Station, the city's first public electric vehicle charging station.
Arun Banskota is the head of NRG Electric Vehicle Services, one of the partners in this effort. He said each Freedom Station offers room for two cars to charge simultaneously. "What is very important is the one on the left is only one of two DC chargers, rapid chargers in the nation today," he said. "You plug in your car, walk inside HEB for 15 minutes, you get a 50 mile boost of range. It's a very rapid charger."
Mayor Annise Parker --who spent 20 years in the oil and gas industry -- was on hand. "The City of Houston recently purchased two Nissan Leafs, which are displayed here today," she said. "These are the first all-electric municipal fleet vehicles in Texas. Another 23 electric vehicles will be added to the city's fleet by the year end, joining the 15 plug-in hybrids we already have in our fleet." Houston is expanding its fleet of electric city vehicles, buying 30 cars with the help of the federal government.
Luke Metzger is the director of Environment Texas, a citizen-based environmental advocacy organization that works to shift to clean energy. "Houston's worldwide known for being the oil capital of the world, so to make a big commitment to electric vehicles is very impressive," he said. "Not just through words, but through financial investments. Buying electric cars for the city fleet, installing the charging stations, and bringing the utilities to the table and making this a major priority for the city I think is really impressive."
All told Houston, working with its partner ECOtality, will install 28 additional public charging stations at city libraries and parks. Another partner, GRIDbot, will handle the installation of an additional 28 municipal charging stations in the parking garage underneath Tranquility Park, for the fleet of city vehicles.
(Houston -- KUHF) Hurricane season begins tomorrow, and it's on the minds of the Gulf Coast residents.
In 2005, millions of Houstonians evacuated their homes during Rita, and created a 30-mile traffic jam from downtown Houston along I-45 North.
"During the Rita experience, a lot of us were blind, we didn't know what was going out there," says Mike Vickch, webmaster for TranStar, which partnered with four government agencies to develop a solution.
Officials say new technology means a Rita-style jam won't happen again.
"This technology just enables traffic management personnel and the general public to know what's happening on the roadways during an evacuation or everyday," Vickch says.
Get the whole story over at KUHF News.