ASK THE TIMES: Why Not Use the Old Red Light Cameras?

'Big Brother' red light camera at Broad & Annandale

We thought this was a red light camera, but it's not. (See Comment at end of story.). . .

A reader asks:

I can’t believe we have to purchase new red light cameras when the old ones are sitting on the poles right now. Why can’t we use the old system? Sounds like this wasn’t thought out completely.

We passed this question to City Manager Wyatt Shields. While we were at it, we asked him when and where the new cameras will be installed.

Shields responded:

The private contractor that installed, maintained, and operated the camera system from 2002-2006 did not compete for the contract to operate the new system when we put it out for bid this year.

Why not use the old poles and equipment already in place? That might happen. The new operator, American Traffic Solutions, has the option to use the old poles if they meet their needs and specifications. They have also agreed that if in the future we want to move the equipment to different intersections, they will do so at no charge.

There are many changes to Virginia law that have made the installation of the system more complicated this time around.

Under the new contract, which is governed by new state law provisions, the City will pay a fixed fee per month per intersection for the operation of the system. The total annual cost will be $350,000, which we anticipate to be fully offset by revenues from violations.

The private contractor’s role is to provide the City with images of potential red light violations. These images are reviewed by a City police officer for a determination if a red light running violation has occurred.

Violations may be contested in general district court. Fines for red light running under this photo red program will be $50. Violations are not counted against your driving record for insurance purposes.

Most importantly, our experience in the prior period was that the installation of photo red enforcement cameras was correlated with a decrease in accidents in the intersections where they were installed. This has also been the finding of most studies on photo red enforcement around the country.

We expect to have the new photo red enforcement program operating this summer at the following intersections:

— West Broad and Birch

— West Broad and Annandale

— East Broad and Cherry

— South Washington and Marshall 

Have a question about the City that might be on fellow residents’ minds as well? Email your question here, and we’ll try to get an answer.

See also: City Installing 4 Red Light Cameras Costing $350,000


Previous ASK THE TIMES questions:
Rolling Carts for Heavy Recycling Loads?
Status of Hilton Garden Inn?
Questions about Northgate

May 14, 2009 


2 Responses to “ASK THE TIMES: Why Not Use the Old Red Light Cameras?”

  1. TFC on May 14th, 2009 8:23 am

    In the last red light camera system I had heard the fines were not enforceable. If the violator did not pay there was no leverage to enforce payment. Does anyone know if this is still the case? If this is true it may have an impact on revenue projections. I know a certain amount of “lost” revenue is built into the current revenue projections but non-payment figures may be quite different this time…
    Of course, it’s all about safety, not revenue……..

  2. Cameraman on May 14th, 2009 7:30 pm

    You might want to change the picture for this article as the camera you have highlighted is not a Red Light Camera, but rather a camera for video detection for the traffic signals. The video system detects cars on sidestreets or in turn lanes and lets the signal controller know that there is a “call” at that location.
    You’re better than the News Press, but a little bit of homework can help.

    (EDITOR’S REPLY: Thanks, that explains why the camera is only pointed at the side street. As part-time, unpaid staffers, we rely on readers like you to help with our “homework.”)

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