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BREAKING: ABQ to Consider Camera Overhaul

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Mayor proposes no more speed citations, fewer cameras overall. Existing contract expires at midnight.

 

Mayor Richard Berry announced this morning that he will propose an overhaul of the red-light camera program.

The overhaul would remove six of the 20 cameras and halt the citations for speeders. Instead, the cameras would focus only on red-light runners.

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In the meantime, however, the cameras will go dark at midnight tonight because the contract for their operation expires. Berry will discuss with councilors whether they want to extend the contract, but they don’t meet until Monday.

Berry’s recommendations are based the results of a University of New Mexico study of the cameras’ effectiveness.

The study estimated that rear-end collisions were up because of the cameras, but that crashes with injuries were down. The net effect appears to be an increase in safety, Berry said.

But he wants the city to take steps to reduce rear-end collisions. The city will consider lengthening yellow lights to give people time to clear the intersection. Halting speeding citations could also help because people won’t be afraid to head through the intersection on yellow, rather than stopping abruptly and causing a rear-end accident.

His administration intends to issue a request for proposals. An agreement with the winning bidder would go before councilors.

The decision on whether to extend the current contract in the meantime isn’t an easy one, he said. The city is now having to subsidize the cameras to the tune of about $30,000 a month because they don’t bring in enough revenue to support their operation under the current arrangement.

The future of the program, Berry said, must be based on the evidence of its effectiveness.

“We’re trying to be data driven on this, take the politics out of it. It’s about stopping red-light runners,” he said.

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Watch the video here.

 

The Mayor’s Office put out the following news release:

 

Mayor Richard J. Berry to Overhaul Red Light Camera Program

 

Red light cameras will no longer cite for speed; Six cameras will be

removed; Traffic engineering improvements to be made

 

 

Mayor Richard J. Berry announced Monday that he is going to recommend a

major overhaul of the City’s Red Light Camera Program to the City

Council.

 

Under Mayor Berry’s proposal, the cameras will no longer issue citations

for speed, six cameras will be eliminated, enhancements will be made at

intersections throughout the city, and a request for proposals seeking a

third-party administrator of the program will be initiated. A contract

will be sent to the City Council for approval by the end of the year.

 

Mayor Berry’s announcement comes after he received a study conducted by

the University of New Mexico’s Institute for Social Research. In March,

Mayor Berry commissioned the study and said he would make a decision on

the future of the Red Light Camera Program once it was complete.

 

The study found:

 

* No evidence that the speeding component improved safety.

* Rear-end collisions accounted for an overall increase in

crashes.

* More than $2 million has been saved in property damage, medical

and other costs, however, at 30 percent of the intersections costs

actually increased.

* Overall, injury crashes decreased at red light camera

intersections, but rear end crashes increased.

* The program prevented an estimated 120 injury accidents since

its inception to December 2008.

* At the beginning of the program an average of 600 citations per

camera were being issued each month. Citations dropped to about 100 per

month per camera in 2008.

 

“The study showed that the red light component made a difference in red

light running,” Mayor Berry said. “I believe the speed component of the

program contributes to rear-end collisions. Motorists were trying to

decide if they should speed up to avoid a red light citation or slam on

their brakes to avoid a speeding ticket. We are bringing this program

back to its original intent – to prevent red light running.”

 

According to the study, the cameras contributed to an overall reduction

in crash costs at all intersections with the exception of six. As a

result, the mayor announced he will eliminate cameras at the following

intersections where safety did not improve or was adversely affected:

 

* Academy and Wyoming

* Central and Eubank

* Menaul and Carlisle

* Coors and Montano

* Coors and Paseo del Norte

* Jefferson and Paseo del Norte

 

The two cameras on Coors and the camera at Paseo del Norte and Jefferson

were turned off earlier this year when the New Mexico Transportation

Department ordered the removal of all automated cameras on state roads.

Under Mayor Berry’s proposal, there will be 14 red light cameras

operating throughout the city.

“The study showed that the cameras did not benefit public safety at six

of the intersections,” Mayor Berry said. “There is no way we can justify

keeping them at these intersections if they are not improving public

safety.”

Last month, Mayor Berry asked his financial team to generate a report of

all of the revenues and expenditures since the program was started in

October 2004. The report revealed that in fiscal year 2010, 56-percent

of the revenue went to Redflex, the Arizona-based company that

administers the program with only 3% going to the City after expenses.

The report also revealed that as the contract is currently written,

taxpayers will have to supplement more than $340,000 by July to keep the

program going.

As a result, Mayor Berry announced that he was going to let the contract

with Redflex expire midnight Tuesday and issue a request for new bids.

Though Redflex may reapply for the contract, the RFP will open up the

process to other companies and ensure that the best contract is

negotiated on behalf of the citizens of Albuquerque. A new contract is

expected to be sent to the City Council by the end of they year for

their consideration. Mayor Berry said he will not sign a contract longer

than one year plus options.

“We are going to do our best to keep the good, get rid of the bad and

make sure we have a program we can afford,” Mayor Berry said.

The city launched a new web site (cabq.gov/redlight) on Monday that

includes all of the information from the study. The site has charts and

graphs that contain citation, crash and financial data. Each month the

site will be updated with a report from the program.

The study also revealed that adjustments in traffic engineering can

improve traffic safety, such as increasing the length of yellow lights.

Mayor Berry has asked the city’s Municipal Development Director to

review each intersection to determine where yellow light timing could be

increased, where additional or more prominent signage around the

intersections could be installed and how to enhance signalization.

“I have asked the City’s Municipal Development Director to look at ways

to improve these intersections with better traffic engineering, signage,

adjustments to the length of yellow lights and enhanced signalization,”

Mayor Berry said.

Additionally, Mayor Berry has decided to keep the city’s three speed

vans. “Speed vans increase safety in school zones, construction zones

and neighborhoods,” Mayor Berry said. “They are mobile and can be moved

around the City to protect our children as well as workers within

construction zones.”

 

Mayor Berry said that he has instructed his team to review the data

after a year to see if the changes were improving traffic safety.

 

 

 


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