|Murfreesboro City Council approved an appraisal and acquisition plan Thursday for properties along the planned expansion of Middle Tennessee Boulevard from Main Street to the Greenland Drive intersection.
The approval included steps to condemn any property whose owners are not happy with the city's appraised value.
"If there's no changes and the property owner is not satisfied with the offer, we'll then ask the legal department to file condemnation with the actual value being taken deposited into court," City Engineer Chris Griffith told the council.
The city approved appraisal contracts total $133,000 that will also include an independent analysis to fairly compensate more than 34 property owners that will be affected, including the residence for MTSU's President Dr. Sidney A. McPhee.
The project is part of an ongoing enhancement of Middle Tennessee Boulevard and is being completed in cooperation with the state and federal government with the city and MTSU paying only 20 percent of the total cost. City engineers anticipate major damage to the 34 properties.
"We'll offer owner copy of the appraised value," Griffith said. "If the property owner can substantiate anything that's incorrect with the appraisal, we'll then review it."
The city council also approved a 3-5 year contract with a new photo enforcement company for the city's red-light cameras. Murfreesboro Police Chief Glenn Chrisman told the council the technology is saving lives and money.
"In 2009-10, at photo enforced intersections, there was a slight decrease in accidents and increase in rear end," Chrisman said. "At all signalized intersections, total crashes decreased by 13.9 percent. That's not where the cameras are. That's all the intersections. That signals behavior change, which was our goal."
Chrisman went on to show dramatic decreases in accidents across the city compared to the two years prior to Murfreesboro's use of the controversial technology.
"In 2006 we had 265 crashes at intersections where we later put cameras. In 2010 that was 177. In 2006, there were 150 rear end crashed. In 2010 it was 129. In 2006 there were 115 side angle crashes. Last year, there were 48. They cut those in half. That same year at all intersections we had 750 crashes. Last year - 582. Ladies and gentlemen, the system is working," Chrismas said.
The new deal adds termination language should the state ever ban such technology. Chrisman said he expects the Tennessee General Assembly to enact laws governing the use of photo enforcement that he said will model Murfreesboro.
The city will pay 100 percent of the first 1,200 paid citations to American Traffic Solutions and 25 percent of all citations above 1,200 for the term of the contract. The city is not responsible to any other costs to ATS, including infrastructure. Violators who fail to pay will continue having unpaid fines reported to their credit report.