Frederick adds 10 more cameras to red-light program -- Gazette.Net


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Frederick city plans to add red-light cameras at the following locations:

Both east- and westbound West Patrick Street and North McCain Drive
Both east- and westbound West Patrick Street at Hillcrest Drive
Baughman’s Lane and West Patrick Street
East Patrick and South East streets
West South Street at South Jefferson Street
South Jefferson Street at West South Street
West South Street at Bentz Street
Northbound Monocacy Boulevard at Liberty Road

The board also renewed its contract to keep the city’s seven existing cameras in operation.

The additional 10 cameras will be at the following intersections: Both east- and westbound West Patrick Street and North McCain Drive; both east- and westbound West Patrick Street at Hillcrest Drive; Baughman’s Lane and West Patrick Street; East Patrick and South East streets; West South Street at South Jefferson Street; South Jefferson Street at West South Street; West South Street at Bentz Street and Northbound Monocacy Boulevard at Liberty Road.

Under the new pact, the city will receive $35 for citations issued at new or upgraded cameras — $9 less than the $44 it now receives from each $75 citation at the current locations.

Lt. Jason Keckler, commander of the Community Services Division of the Frederick Police Department, said the locations were chosen based on collision and enforcement history and resident complaints. He said the vendor is also able to monitor an intersection without issuing citations, to see if enforcement is needed.

Keckler said the agency would begin the permitting process to install the cameras immediately after the aldermen approve it. About half of the cameras can be active within 45 days, while the others may take longer due to the permitting process, Keckler said.

The locations will be added to the city’s website when they are activated, he said.

Currently, there are seven intersections in Frederick armed with cameras, including East 3rd and North East streets; East Patrick Street and Monocacy Boulevard; Motter Avenue and West 7th Street; Opposumtown Pike and Thomas Johnson Drive; Rosemont Avenue and Montevue Lane; Rosemont Avenue and U.S. 15 and Willowdale Drive and Key Parkway.

Since peaking in 2008 with 7,334 citations, the number issued annually has dropped steadily, from 6,369 in 2009, to 6,249 in 2010, 6,100 in 2011 and 2,661 through June of this year.

The aldermen have been discussing the cameras for the past month, with Alderman Shelley Aloi (R) consistently advocating for an open bidding process to see if the city could save money.

The seven current cameras were turned off July 26 after the board voted at a July 19 meeting to postpone discussion of a long-term contract with American Traffic Solutions, which has operated the cameras in Frederick since 2005. The board voted Aug. 3 to reactivate the cameras for 90 days on a temporary contract, receiving $31 per citation.

At Thursday’s meeting, the board voted 4-1, with Aloi voting against, to approve a six-year contract with the company, and the option for a seventh year. The city does not pay any money for the program, but receives a share of revenue from citations.

Aloi was again the lone voice in opposition. She believed the city might have received more money from a different vendor, and will earn less money if cameras are upgraded at their current locations.

“By allowing this significant increase in fees, it’s over 1,000 violations per year in additional [citations] that we would have to have at current locations just to break even [with revenue from the current cameras],” she said.

Alderman Kelly Russell (D) disagreed, saying that city officials followed proper procedure for renewing the contract, which did not require requesting proposals. She also reiterated her previous statements that the program is not designed to generate revenue, but rather to increase safety.

“There was no breach of our policy,” she said. “The program is cost neutral. Anything we get out of it is a bonus. It’s icing on the cake.”

Alderman Michael O’Connor echoed similar sentiments, saying he would like to receive no income from existing locations, if drivers change their habits and stop running red lights.

tlaino@gazette.net