Deployment of devices for photo radar delayed

Comments | Recommend Howard Fischer, Capitol Media Services

Arizonans who have a tendency to speed are going to get a bit of a reprieve from being caught on cameras.
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DPS plans state photo enforcement in September
State Department of Public Safety Lt. James Warriner said Friday the legal spat over a contract for 100 new photo radar units means there is no way the state can meet its goal of getting the first 50 on the road by the end of the year. Warriner said that's because the state Department of Administration has barred DPS from awarding the contract while it hears complaints from an unsuccessful bidder.
And Warriner said if that dispute is not resolved soon, the other 50 cameras which are supposed to be up and running by February also will not be deployed.
The chances of that happening are good.
Josh Weiss, a spokesman for American Traffic Solutions, the unsuccessful bidder, said Friday that if the Department of Administration does not void the $20 million contract award to Redflex Traffic Systems, a lawsuit is "on the table."
More to the point, Weiss said if litigation becomes necessary, his firm would ask a judge to delay awarding the contract until a final ruling.
And that could take months - if not longer.
The fallout from the fight affects more than motorists who do not have to keep an eye out for the fixed and mobile cameras.
It also undermines the predictions by Gov. Janet Napolitano that the new cameras will generate $90 million in revenue by June 30.
Central to the battle is whether Redflex was legally qualified to bid on the statewide system the Legislature authorized in June as part of the budget.
Redflex already has a contract with the state to operate two photo radar vans.
Company President Karen Finley admitted last month that the model of radar "guns" in the vans had not been certified for operation in the United States by the Federal Communications Commission. The two vans were pulled off the road until Redflex got the proper documentation.
Attorneys for ATS contend that the illegal operation of those radar guns made Redflex legally unqualified to bid.
Last week, Lu Himmelstein, the chief procurement officer for DPS, rejected the challenge. She said the failure of Redflex to obtain FCC approval apparently was an "oversight."
And DPS has said the lack of FCC certification did not affect the accuracy of the readings. Warriner said that is why his agency is not offering refunds to any of the approximately 4,800 motorists who received speeding citations based on readings from the two radar units which were not FCC certified.
Warriner said Friday that Bill Bell, director of the Department of Administration, has promised to rule on the ATS appeal as soon as possible. Warriner had no specific deadline for action.