City Hall to expand red-light camera program

City Hall to expand red-light camera program

CORRECTION: Because of a reporting error, the site of the red-light camera on Duke Street was incorrectly identified.

By Erich Wagner (File photo)

A pair of new red-light cameras planned for two local intersections are intended to reduce crashes on busy streets — and pad the city’s threadbare coffers.

City Manager Rashad Young’s proposed fiscal 2015 budget calls for cameras to watch over the westbound lanes of Duke Street at its intersection with Walker Avenue and in the southbound lanes of South Patrick Street at its intersection with Gibbon Street.

These intersections already have cameras monitoring the opposite direction, said police spokeswoman Ashley Hildebrandt. Still, they remain ranked among the top 10 city intersections for car crashes.

“They’re trying to enhance the safety of intersections already proven to be problematic,” she said.

At the same time, city leaders point to the measure as one of several ways to raise revenues — to the tune of $200,000 a year — without increasing property tax rates. But city spokesman Craig Fifer said regardless of the financial boon, the city is concerned primarily with improving safety.

“We do derive some of that revenue, but the camera locations are chosen primarily based on the accident data in those intersections,” he said.

Fifer said the idea for new cameras at the intersections came out of discussions with police on how to improve traffic safety. Young did not ask for additional cameras to raise revenue, but offered it as a suggestion to police in their efforts to reduce accidents.

“The police department was looking for opportunities to improve traffic safety, and the city manager asked if additional cameras would be helpful,” Fifer said.

But officials chose the locations for the cameras based on the low cost of installing them. Fifer said the existing camera infrastructure at these intersections makes adding and maintaining new devices a lot cheaper and easier than introducing them in other sections of the city.

“The police department was able to identify these intersections so we could install them without increasing the support resources necessary to deploy a new camera at a new intersection,” he said. “There’s a point at which there is an added cost.”

Young will hold a public presentation on the budget at 6:30 p.m. on April 3 at Charles Beatley Central Library.