Two red-light cameras approved at City Hall intersections
By Patrick Kerkstra
INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
A City Council committee today approved the installation of two red-light cameras that would cover a pair of traffic-clogged and sometimes hazardous intersections outside City Hall.
Motorists entering and exiting the City Hall circle from North and South Broad Streets would be watched by the new cameras, which still must be approved by City Council and the mayor. The Market Street entrances onto the City Hall circle would not be covered by the cameras.
If installed, the two red-light cameras would bring the citywide total to 15. Motorists who run red lights receive $100 tickets in the mail.
"The intersections around City Hall are an absolute disaster as far as pedestrian traffic is concerned," said Councilman Jim Kenney, who cosponsored the bill that would authorize the new cameras.
The Philadelphia Parking Authority, which administers the red-light camera program, put temporary cameras up at the intersections on a recent weekday. The cameras recorded more than 234 violations in less than 12 hours, according to Parking Authority officials.
Traffic violations have declined at other intersections where red-light cameras are installed, according to PPA data. At the intersection of Mascher Street and Roosevelt Boulevard, for instance, red-light violations have fallen from 4,587 in June 2007 to 1,783 in September 2008, the last month for which data is available.
Though no testimony was offered opposing the red-light camera program, Catherine Rossi - representing the American Automobile Association - said that her organization would oppose the installation of unnecessary cameras.
"This is not supposed to be about making money. It's supposed to be about safety and stopping people running red lights," Rossi said.
Later, she added that red-light camera programs have "lost credibility" in many other cities. Philadelphia, she said, had avoided that so far but must continue to divulge data and operate transparently if motorists are to accept more cameras.
Revenue from the red-light program is sent to the state for use in transportation projects. So far, Philadelphia's program has generated $4 million, said Vincent Fenerty, the Parking Authority's executive director.
The council committee also approved a bill that would increase the fees on drivers who break or destroy disabling "boots" attached to their vehicles by the Parking Authority. Though the Parking Authority requested that the fine be raised from $300 to $700, the council committee jacked the fee up to $1,000.