Council approves redlight cameras

By David Kassabian/Caller-Times
January 30, 2007

Drivers running redlights at about 10 area intersections will be ticketed by a remote stoplight camera system as early as mid-April after City Council on Tuesday gave final approval to the project and authorized a contract with a private company that will operate the camera system.

Council awarded a five-year contract to RedFlex Traffic Systems Inc. to install, operate and maintain a camera system at 10 intersection approaches. The city will pay RedFlex, an Arizona-based public safety support company, a $584,400 flat fee per year.

In return, the company will pay all equipment, installation and support costs on the redlight network. The city also gave final approval to an ordinance Tuesday that makes a redlight infraction caught by camera a civil violation with a $75 fine.

For drivers who are caught running red lights by police officers, rather than a camera, the fine remains $150, Assistant City Manager Oscar Martinez said.

In the first full year of operation, the camera system could bring about $2.4 million in revenue to the city, after paying the flat fee, Martinez said. The contract guarantees the city will not lose money on the project by ensuring if red-light citation revenue is less than the total amount of flat fees paid to RedFlex at the contract's end, Martinez said.

Implementation of a camera system could increase the number of citations significantly, at least initially, Martinez said. In the first few months online citation rates could be on par with rates experienced during a month-long test period from mid-October to mid-November.

During the on-site tests, the cameras would have ticketed about 800 cars - equal to 70 percent of all citations written in 2005, police said. In that year, Corpus Christi police wrote 1,121 citations to drivers who ran red lights, according to police records.

Police Chief Bryan Smith said the project provides a considerable increase in public safety at no cost to taxpayers.

"It's important we continue to look at new technology that enhances safety," he said.