More red-light cameras to catch speeders in Mesa

Justin Juozapavicius
The Arizona Republic
Oct. 11, 2005 12:00 AM

Red-light cameras aren't just for red-light runners anymore. You speeders better look out, too.

Mesa will become the Valley's latest city to beef up-high tech photo safety enforcement by including "speed-on-green" features to their red-light cameras.

The City Council on Monday night voted to increase red-light cameras at city intersections to 30 from 13 by April as part of a $2.7 million system. Some of those cameras will pull double duty with the "speed-on-green" feature, which will allow police to monitor motorists speeding through up to five intersections even when the light is green.

At least two other Valley cities, Chandler and Scottsdale, are trying that feature in their photo radar enforcement.

The Mesa system also will use digital photos, instead of the outdated wet film, to capture motorists who run red lights. Officials say that could increase citations up to 50 percent because the photos are clearer and faster.

The "speed-on-green" featured cameras will detect motorists who drive 11 mph over the speed limit through a yellow or green light, according to a city council report. The tickets will be mailed.

"The whole point of it is safety," said Vice Mayor Claudia Walters, a member of the city's Police Committee.

Mesa is also hoping to recover costs by implementing the technology from American Traffic Solutions Inc. With the old equipment, the city ran a $238,094 deficit last year operating the photo safety program.

Another reason for the upgrade is the major increase of traffic in east Mesa. A 10-year traffic study revealed a 79 percent increase in traffic volume east of Gilbert Road, according to a city staff report.

Since 1996, the city's photo safety program has helped reduce collisions at intersections.

In the past three years, for example, monitored intersections showed a 15 percent decrease in total collisions and a 30 percent decrease in injury collisions vs. non-monitored intersections, according to a police staff report.

Council member Janie Thom voted against the photo safety contract because she said "it just looks like Big Brother's watching you" with that type of system.