City to test photo radar on 410

Bonney Lake might follow Lakewood in effort to nab red-light runners

ROB TUCKER; The News Tribune
Published: May 1st, 2006 01:00 AM
Following the lead of Lakewood, Bonney Lake will test an automated camera at a key intersection to help city officials decide whether to use it to enforce traffic signals.

The camera will record a vehicle and its license plate number when its driver runs a red light at 184th Avenue East and Highway 410.

The test, which has yet to be scheduled, will last one day . No citations will be issued.

After examining the results, the City Council will decide whether to adopt a surveillance camera enforcement program for the city, Mayor Neil Johnson said.

“We want to see if it makes sense,” he said. “I know Lakewood battled with it.”

One person in Bonney Lake reacted favorably after learning about it last week.

“Drivers everywhere out there, not just in Bonney Lake, are insane,” said Bonney Lake businesswoman Louisa Smith. “If they can do anything to make people follow the rules of the road, it sounds great to me.”

Auburn is installing cameras now at intersections where the most red-light violations have occurred, said Mayor Pete Lewis on Friday.

The south King County city is willing to share its data with Bonney Lake to help the smaller city get an idea of how the system works.

Lakewood already uses cameras in school zones to cite speeders and at intersections to get red-light runners. Cameras are mounted on poles at intersections or on unmarked police cars. They photograph the vehicle’s license plate. The owner gets a ticket in the mail.

Most Lakewood traffic tickets from a camera cost $101, but state law classifies the citations the same as parking violations – the citation is on the vehicle, not the driver. Camera-based citations won’t appear on driving records.

Lakewood expects to spend about $900,000 annually for the program, but hopes to bring in $1.4 million in revenue from about 16,000 citations per year.

The Legislature legalized photo radar enforcement last year. The state allows it at school zones, railroad crossings and red lights.

Mayor Johnson said he asked Bonney Lake’s public safety committee to look at a camera surveillance proposal from a company in Edmonds.

The committee authorized a test and will report results and recommendations to the full council after it is completed.

The city will announce the date of the test once they settle on one, said City Councilman Jim Rackley.

City Councilman Dave King, also a member of the safety committee, said a modest camera enforcement program concentrating on red-light runners wouldn’t necessarily make money, but it could change behavior and “lower the number of T-bone accidents at an intersection.”

If Bonney Lake adopts a camera system, a Bonney Lake police officer would review the recording and authorize a citation before it could be issued.

People who receive tickets could go online and view a video of their car running the light, King said.

There would be many details yet to work out, including the cost, safety benefits and locations.

Don Sangesand, a resident who has expressed concerns about new developments and traffic overloading city streets, said the test could be part of the council’s effort to “cast about for sources of revenue.”

He said the camera program could be good for traffic enforcement. But, he added, the city’s treating the symptom rather than the real problem.

He said there are too many stoplights on Highway 410 in the city, which has caused major traffic jams – and thus red-light runners and wrecks – during peak commuting times.

Vince Sainati, a Bonney Lake police officer, said officials also might consider a national study that says photo radar increases rear-end collisions.

“If people know it’s photo enforced,” he said, “they see a yellow light and slam on their brakes.”

Rob Tucker: 253-597-8374