Springs gears up for red-light, speed cameras

June 7, 2010

Motorists who think yellow means step on the gas might want to think again.

Red-light cameras, which have sparked controversy across America, could soon be making their Colorado Springs debut.

The City Council is expected to give preliminary approval today to a proposed ordinance governing violations recorded by red-light cameras, paving the way for the Police Department to start issuing citations after a warning period that ends around Oct. 18.

Pending final approval by the council June 22, police plan to install red-light cameras later this year at the following four intersections:

• Northbound Nevada Avenue at Bijou Street

• Eastbound Oro Blanco Drive at Barnes Road

• Westbound Platte Avenue at Murray Boulevard

• Westbound Platte Avenue at Circle Drive

See map below

About 5,000 citations are expected to be issued at each intersection monthly.

The intersections are among 15 in the city with a high number of right-angle collisions.

“The police perspective on this is all about reducing crashes,” not generating revenue, Police Chief Richard Myers said Monday.

“There’s potential it could generate revenue,” he said. “Some cities that have implemented this have had a substantial revenue increase from it. That’s not our intention or our goal.”

Police had planned to install the cameras earlier this year, but ran into delays. The city had initially estimated the red-light cameras — as well as photo radar — would generate an additional $735,000 in revenue this year. But after the delays, the estimates were cut in half.

Myers said there are a lot of misconceptions in Colorado Springs about the cameras, including that yellow times on traffic lights will be shortened.

“We’re carrying the burden of some other communities in other states who had been what I consider less than ethical in their implementation,” he said.

The cameras will record the violation, and an officer will review it before a citation is mailed, he said.

“The emphasis I’m making with our officers who will be reviewing the video is, if there’s any shadow of a doubt, let it go,” he said.

Red-light runners will also be able to watch a video of the violation online, prompting most violators to pay the $75 fine, he said.

“The average law-abiding, good citizen is going to look at that and say, ‘Man, I screwed up. They’ve got it. They’ve got it right there on video,’” Myers said.

Red-light camera citations won’t cost motorists any points on their drivers licenses.

With the exception of paying an officer or officers to review the violations, Myers said the red-light cameras won’t cost the city any money. Arizona-based American Traffic Solutions will pay for the technology.

“They wouldn’t be engaging in this business if they weren’t going to get their return on investment and pay their operating costs,” the chief said.

The proposed ordinance also covers a photo-radar program, but police still haven’t determined when it will be rolled out.

Call the writer at 476-1623.


View Red-light cameras in a larger map

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