Bellevue may test traffic cameras

By Ashley Bach
Seattle Times Eastside bureau

The Bellevue City Council on Monday night will consider whether to install red-light cameras at six intersections and speed cameras at up to five school zones.

The cameras would be part of a one-year pilot project and cost $700,000, which would likely be recouped in extra traffic fines, according to Bellevue police.

The cameras snap photos of cars that run red lights at busy intersections or drive over the speed limit in school zones.

Both types of cameras are on the rise in the Puget Sound region. Seattle recently wrapped up a one-year pilot project with red-light cameras and is thinking about adding speed cameras in school zones and more cameras at red lights.

Other cities have installed red-light cameras or are considering them, including Issaquah, Sammamish, Tacoma and Lynnwood.

This fall, Renton plans to install speed cameras at three school zones and red-light cameras at three intersections. Auburn has one speed camera in a school zone and plans to install a second one.

Bellevue police say the cameras are a cost-effective way to cut down on car accidents, especially as traffic increases with growth. The department hasn't decided which intersections or school zones to target, but the cameras help the most at busy intersections that don't have room for traffic officers to park, police spokesman Greg Grannis said.

"We're always looking for [technological] solutions to complicated problems," he said.

Police recently recorded their findings at a few busy intersections. At 116th Avenue Northeast and Northeast Eighth Street, for example, 22 drivers ran red lights over a one-hour period during morning rush hour, and 19 ran lights over an hour during the afternoon commute.

Over a half-hour on one afternoon this week, 110 drivers broke the speed limit for a school zone with children present outside Stevenson Elementary School in east Bellevue, police said.

In the one-year Seattle project at four intersections, about 14,000 tickets were issued, generating about $900,000 in revenue, according to a city report.

The Bellevue council will decide Monday whether to give preliminary approval to the pilot project. The Police Department would find a company to supply the cameras and then come back to the council with a final proposal.

The council meets at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 450 110th Ave. N.E.

Ashley Bach: 206-464-2567 or

Copyright 2007 The Seattle Times Company