Tempe adds 20 new speed cameras
Garin Groff, Tribune
Drivers will find 10 new places to get photo-enforcement tickets in Tempe starting today. The city is launching a massive expansion of its photo-enforcement effort by boosting permanent cameras from two to 20.

GRAPHIC: See the location of the new cameras

Just two intersections had the equipment for a decade, with one camera at each place. But the city now has a pair of cameras in each of the 10 locations, snapping photos of drivers in two directions.

The new digital equipment replaces film-based technology that was a decade old. The quality was so bad that only 24 percent of violations resulted in a photo good enough to issue a citation.

“It was not accomplishing what it needed to,” Tempe police Sgt. Mike Horn said.

Cities typically break even on the cost of photo enforcement, but the poor quality resulted in an annual loss of $285,000 in Tempe.

Tempe hasn’t calculated how much revenue the new equipment will generate, but Horn said the city’s goal is to implement a program that’s revenue-neutral while trying to slow down drivers and reduce traffic crashes.

Drivers will get warnings for the first 30 days while operators fine-tune the technology. After that, drivers will get citations in the mail.

The equipment allows Tempe to do two new things.

First, the city can now issue citations to drivers who speed through green signals at intersections. And second, the city has midblock locations to detect speeders.

Police chose the locations after reviewing collision data, talking with city traffic engineers and working with Redflex, a Scottsdale-based company that will administer the service.

Each location will be marked with a sign warning drivers, but Horn said some already have spotted the pole-mounted cameras.

“We’ve received some calls from several people who have noticed them going up,” Horn said. “It’s clearly not anything that should be a surprise to most.”

The city abandoned two intersections that had the old equipment: McClintock Drive and Southern Avenue, and Rural and Broadway roads.

Tempe will continue to use two radar-equipped vans around the city that cite speeders, though the vehicles were recently replaced. The vans have issued only warnings recently but will issue citations beginning today.