At this rate, the cameras will pay for themselves

By Mike Archbold
Journal Reporter

AUBURN Drivers in Auburn tallied $30,603 in fines for running through photo-enforced red lights at two south Auburn intersections during its first nine days of operation.

The 303 drivers caught on camera won't have to pay the $101 fine. During the first month of operation, only warning letters are being mailed to violators.

Photo enforcement began June 1 when the Redflex Traffic Systems Inc.'s cameras were activated on Auburn Way South at both M Street Southeast and Fourth Street Southeast. Auburn is one of the first cities in the state to take advantage of the photo patrol authorized last year by the Legislature.

In his weekly e-mail update Friday, Mayor Pete Lewis said letters for the first 147 violators will be arriving this week. The rest of the infractions so far are being reviewed by Auburn police and warning letters will be forthcoming.

The real tickets should start next month.

"We've done all the tests, put up all the signs and signed all of the forms to prove that we followed all the proper guidelines, but I am very, very tired of waiting," Lewis said.

City officials say the photo light enforcement is an effort to make intersections safer by discouraging drivers from trying to beat red lights. Signs at the intersections warn of the new enforcement effort.

The entire system won't cost the city a dime. The city is obligated to pay the firm $4,800 per month per approach to an intersection. The four approaches on camera add up to $19,200 per month.

If fines don't generate enough money at the end of the year, the company has agreed to take the loss.

Judging by the first nine days, that bill won't be hard to pay. Extra money will be kept by the city and can be used to expand the system to other intersections.

The warning letters in June will not come with photo proof of the offense, but the real tickets will.

The real citations will include three color photographs showing the violation. One will show the vehicle prior to entering the intersection with the traffic signal red; the second will show the vehicle still in the intersection with the light red; the third will be a close-up shot of the license plate.

If a drier still can't believe the violation, Redflex provides a secure Web site for those cited to plug in their citation number and view a 12-second video clip of the violation.

"We are ready to start making Auburn safer, one step at a time, light by light, until everyone out there knows don't run red lights in Auburn," Lewis said in his weekly update to citizens.

Mike Archbold can be reached at or at 253-872-6647.

Last modified: June 13. 2006 12:00AM