EDITORIAL: It’s about the money, not safety


(Image/Ashleigh Carter)Do red-light cameras make our roads safer? That’s what City Hall would have you believe, statistics be damned.

City officials tout red-light cameras at busy intersections as a way to cut down on traffic accidents and improve safety. But as statistics show, crashes actually are up at two intersections where additional red-light cameras have been proposed. (The cameras would cover lanes not already under surveillance).

At Duke and Walker streets, the number of crashes dropped to seven in 2011, the year the cameras went live. That’s down from 15 in 2010.

But a year later, accidents jumped to 17. There were then 18 at the intersection last year. The statistics for the second intersection where additional red-light cameras are proposed — South Patrick and Gibbon streets — show a similar trend.

To us, this makes it clear that the surveillance equipment does not — at least here in Alexandria and at these intersections — improve safety. At best, these are just moneymakers for the city.

While officials admit getting a new revenue stream is a benefit, they paint it as an added bonus. Safety is the foremost concern, we are told. In fact, the cameras are making the intersections safer, according to the police department. It’s just not evident out in the crash statistics.

The deputy police chief in charge of the program told the Times that the department sees very few repeat offenders, indicating that most motorists are taking heed of the cameras. The problem? We live in a transient area and newcomers either don’t know about the cameras or aren’t used to them.

And that, to us, seems like just another argument that the cameras don’t work, at least if reducing traffic accidents and improving safety are the primary reasons for the program.

We don’t like red-light cameras for a variety of reasons, including how they represent yet another intrusion into our rapidly disappearing privacy. At the moment, though, we are deeply concerned with what appears to be a blatant case of intellectual dishonesty on the part of the police department and City Hall.

Those cameras are revenue generators — and that’s it. If the city is looking for another cash stream, then so be it. Just don’t hand out tickets while telling us it’s for our own good.

We cannot have an honest debate about the merits of cameras and whether the extra revenue outweighs any concerns on the part of residents until City Hall comes clean about the purpose behind the devices. In fact, this charade makes us wonder what else is getting spun in the name of what’s good for us.

Until then, officials risk seeing public trust in City Hall erode. Let’s just call a spade a spade.



  1. Military Hwy @ Northampton Bvd.

    Original or Copycat? The non existent “CFI”

    For the citizens of Virginia

    “continuous flow interchanges” or “continuous flow INTERSECTIONS”

    “Continuous Flow” (whatever anybody is referring to: interchanges, fire hoses, hemorrhages, drains, rivers, earnings, etc., etc.,) means that THEY ARE CONTINUOUS! That “vehicles” DO NOT STOP.

    Therefore, if you are referring to an interchange IT HAS TO BE, si·ne qua non, GRADE SEPARATED!

    Now, if what you are talking about is an AT-GRADE “INTERSECTION”……there is no possibility in heaven or on earth that it can be “CONTINUOUS” much less CONTINUOUS FLOW……of what? vehicles? pedestrians? or even “Vehicles + Pedestrians”?

    So what are they talking about?

    “continuous flow INTERSECTIONS” ? It does not exist…..period!

    It is a physical impossibility, since MASS BODIES (MATTER/VEHICLES) CAN NOT OCCUPY THE SAME SPACE IN THE UNIVERSE. (at least not in this one)

    What DOES EXIST are:

    1.- Continuous Flow “URBAN” INTERCHANGES (Grade Separation or structured, bridge or tunnel)

    2.- The Two Phase At-Grade Enhanced INTERSECTION or 2pi(C)

    3.- The Hybrid a mixture of one continuous flow (main road grade separated with the secondary road and rest of the connection movements AT -GRADE traffic light controlled (semaforized operation) including pedestrians.


    Some amateurs “traffic engineers aficionados” had stated that the system developed trough 40 years of experience (maybe 60 if you take into consideration Mr. Arturo Olivero Cedeno’s years of research and development added to Mr. Belisario H. Romo) is an OLD idea practiced in Europe Asia and the Far East since the early 50’s.

    Such ignorant statement is the product of lack of training in traffic engineering and the History of “urban traffic controls.” For one reason, and one reason only.

    There was NO traffic controls software in existence at that time, making it impossible to coordinate the four overlapping the left turn phases at the four road legs, where the 4 left turns queue. The ONLY way to COORDINATE THEM with the main intersection, you required REAL TIME TRAFFIC AND VEHICLE VOLUME COMPUTERIZED DETECTION…….AND CONTROL!

    That, was not in existence until 1985 at a very rudimentary stage. Mr. Romo developed the algorithm to work with the TWO PHASE ENHANCED AT GRADE INTERSECTION. 2pi/ Hybrid

    “In the late 1990s, a national standardization effort known as the Advanced transportation controller (ATC) was undertaken in the United States by the Institute of Transportation Engineers.[3] The project attempts to create a single national standard for traffic light controllers. The standardization effort is part of the National Intelligent transportation system program funded by various highway bills, starting with ISTEA in 1991, followed by TEA-21, and subsequent bills. The controllers will communicate using National Transportation Communications for ITS Protocol (NTCIP), based on Internet Protocol, ISO/OSI, and ASN.1.[3]”

    My name is Benumea Maples Otter P.E., P.T.O.E. I worked for Mr. Belisario Hernandez Romo since 1980 till 2003, I was there.

    To begin with, there is not such a thing as Continuous Flow “Intersection” or (CFI). The proper name of the US patent is # 5,049,000. [Filed December 23, 1987] is Continuous Flow “INTERCHANGE.” (grade separated) Many traffic engineers and obviously the patent reviewer, are ignorant that a traffic light intersection can NOT be described as ” continuous” the patent applied without the consent and knowledge of Mr. Belisario Hernandez Romo was fraudulently applied by an ex employee of the company Continuous Traffic Corporation aka/ COTRACORP Fransico Mier Bejarano in 1989……a sociopath conman. Mr Mier deceitfully subtracted the designs and has been defrauding authorities and municipalities selling them the CFI (interchange) but delivering a bad counterfeit of the 2pi© and the 2pi Hybrid©

    Now, the Two Phase At-Grade Enhanced INTERSECTION is a signalized intersection operating in TWO phases of traffic control per cycle. This Two Phase At-Grade Enhanced INTERSECTION concept is not patented it was copyrighted in September 1987 and the creator was Mr. Belisario Hernandez Romo based in the previous patented designs of his father Mr. Arturo Olivero Cedeno, some 30 plus years earlier.

    What you are looking at re-named as “diverging diamond interchange” is a hybrid of the Two Phase At-Grade Enhanced INTERSECTION when one of the roads is a high volume continuous free flow street, road or highway. And it is call “2pi Hybrid INTERCHANGE” so the word “diverging “ is more a quality or a characteristic of the design rather than its name, since the principle is to eliminate the left turns demand for 2 phases of the cycle. To this end the only way to achieve this premise is to relocate or divert the left turn lanes to the left of the opposite trough oncoming traffic. This is the copyrighted design and the premise of the patent (interchange-not an intersection.)

    The question on how this design got to be implemented in many parts of the world is irrelevant; the honor, the prestige, the satisfaction belongs to Mr. Belisario Hernandez Romo a superb traffic designer and geometrician the solution to this and a lot more complicated and complex traffic hurdles belong to him.

    Is easy just visit the official USA copyright and the patent pages and make a query, the latest copyrights I saw were from 2002.

    The first publication of his concepts appear on the LA TIMES Orange County Edition on December 4-1989 after designing complex intersections in New York City – Brooklyn (Hilary Street Corridor) in Phoenix (Camelback Road) in Orange County (El Toro Road @ Jamboree) paper on his designs appear on the western-ITE in 1992 “Review Of the Enhanced At-Grade Intersection” By Mr. Herman Kimmel published in January – February of 1991.

    All copies of this method (trough traffic left turns diverting) have been build AFTER 1987. There are some people that in order to diminish the significant achievement of Mr. Romo dare to say that his concepts were all ready established and in operation in Europe and in the USA since 1904 or 1917.

    This is obviously a lie, because in order for the 2pi system to work, detection, coordination, actuation and finally responsive or adaptive algorithms are required. They were applied to traffic controllers until the end of the 1980’s. Hence the evolution of the Continuous Flow INTERCHANGE into The Two Phase At-Grade Enhanced INTERSECTION and the “2pi Hybrid INTERCHANGE” until 1987.

    All three of them are EXACTLY the same geometry the same principle only flattened in the case of the at-grade solution.

    “Transportation in the New Millennium 2
    For nearly 50 years, from the 1920s until the 1970s, the electromechanical controller
    dominated the traffic signal systems market. Cycle lengths were programmed by installing
    appropriate gears and the cycle was split into various intervals by inserting pins on a
    timing dial. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the NEMA TS1 specification was updated (NEMA TS2) to provide coordinated-actuated operation, preemption, and an optional serial bus that would simplify cabinet wiring.”

    In any case the first “diverging diamond interchange” was designed by Mr. Belisario Hernandez Romo in Maracaibo, Venezuela (Las Delicias Interchange) designed in 1982 and build in 1984.

    After reviewing the counterfeit design build at I-44/Kansas Expressway interchange I can easily prove to those who want to know, that the original designs for this type of interchange are far superior when designed by Mr. Belisario Hernandez Romo.

    If as reported, modot.mo.gov plans to implement similar designs around Kansas City and St. Louis I strongly recommend getting in touch with Mr. Romo and get the original designs, is better for the motorist, the city and the MoDOT they all deserve better.
    His company: Metropolitan Traffic Corporation aka / MetTraCorp in San Diego California

    In regard to the “2pi Hybrid INTERCHANGE” created by: Mr. Belisario Hernández Romo in 1987 and to probe my statements above here is the first “Diverging Diamond interchange.” (Wrong name)

    You can log in to Google maps copy and paste the following address and look for this interchange build in 1999 (11 years ago):

    Gral. Pablo González Garza, Monterrey, Nuevo León, Mexico

    To the north of this “2pi Hybrid INTERCHANGE” you’ll find a “T” version of the “2pi Hybrid INTERCHANGE” Mr. Romo has built at least 50 of these designs based on his system. Traffic Engineers in the USA are copying the creation of Mr. Belisario Hernández Romo only difference the name: Diverging Diamond interchange.

    Just to clarify I want you to know who created the design. There have been a number of copycat designs around the world all after 1987.