Phoenix traffic-camera changes considered

Phoenix may add surveillance, change scope of programs

Sadie Jo Smokey
The Arizona Republic
Jun. 3, 2008 12:00 AM
Phoenix is considering expanding its photo-enforcement and red-light camera programs to increase traffic safety and revenue.

Today, the city's Public Safety and Veterans Subcommittee will consider four options for improving the current program. The city loses approximately $395,000 a year running the program since 84 percent of the collected revenue goes back to the state. However, data presented at a previous meeting indicates fewer reported crashes at intersections with cameras.

"As we continue to see accidents in our intersections and we see excessive speeding throughout our community, we need to provide the police department with more tools to help enforce," said Councilman Claude Mattox, the subcommittee's chairman. advertisement

Mattox said expansion of the photo-enforcement program would be dependent on the city's ability to craft a program that at least breaks even.

Approved in 2000, Phoenix's program to catch red-light runners includes cameras at 12 intersections. About 8,000 citations are issued through the program each year.

Options for expanding the program include:

Enforcing illegal left and right turns with existing cameras.

Phoenix could re-program its existing cameras to issue citations for making illegal turns against a red light. According to staff reports, the added revenues from this option could bring the existing program closer to breaking even.

Adding new cameras to capture illegal turns.

American Traffic Solutions, the private company that oversees the program, proposed adding 48 cameras. The company estimated the added annual revenue from the new cameras at $243,688. However, for every 10 additional cameras, the police department estimates two new officer positions will be required to approve or disapprove photo violations. The police department would also require additional office space and equipment.

Adding mid-block cameras to catch speeders.

ATS officials said installing 20 mid-block cameras would provide Phoenix with about $3.8 million in new revenue. Phoenix would review accident statistics to determine high-accident intersections. Officials said placing cameras near those intersections would generate the most citations and revenue.

Adding more vans to catch speeders.

Today, Phoenix uses two vans to catch speeders in school zones. The vans are used while schools are in session. ATS has proposed adding eight additional vans, which it said would generate about $193,000 a year.

Reporter Casey Newton contributed to this article.