Kingsport to put red light cameras back out for bid

By Matthew Lane

Published October 31st, 2009 | 17 Comments

KINGSPORT — Kingsport’s contract with Redflex Traffic Systems is up in December, but the city plans to continue maintaining red light cameras at eight of the busiest intersections in town.
Kingsport entered into a contract with Redflex nearly three years ago to install red light cameras at a number of busy intersections in an attempt to prevent traffic accidents. Initially, seven cameras were installed at six intersections. Less than a year later, three additional cameras were installed at two other intersections in town.
The contract ends in December, and the city ran a notice in last week’s Times-News requesting sealed proposals from firms to provide an automated red light camera enforcement system.
“The current contract expires, and there’s no extension of that contract, so we have to go back out for bid,” said Deputy Chief David Quillin. “I’m aware of four to five companies that do this, and there may be more.”
Quillin said vendors are to submit proposals to the city, and in December a committee composed of police, traffic and transportation officials will review the proposals and select a firm. The city is aiming for another three-year contract with the chosen vendor.
“Redflex will certainly be one of the vendors who replies to our ad. If they happen to be the vendor selected, we would continue using their equipment in place,” Quillin said. “If not, they would be required to remove their equipment before a new vendor would install their equipment.”
Quillin said he does not think Redflex would have to tear up the sidewalk or roadway to remove its cameras and detection equipment. Redflex spent approximately $50,000 to $60,000 to install the red light camera equipment at each intersection.
The red light cameras have come under fire from some people in the community who call them unconstitutional or simply a money grab by the city of Kingsport. Quillin said he knows some people will say just let the contract expire and remove the cameras.
“They may do that, but I think the decision has been made. We’ve had the system in almost three years, and the numbers thus far, (the system) is achieving the desired results,” Quillin said.
A few weeks ago during a Board of Mayor and Aldermen work session, city leaders discussed whether or not to lower the $100 red light camera fine. The BMA is expected to receive more information from the Kingsport Police Department next week on the red light system.
Quillin said a fee structure would be included in the firms’ proposals but would not be the deciding factor in which firm is ultimately selected.
“I anticipate they will submit a fee structure, but the fee structure is a very small part of the overall selection process. There’s a lot of different things to look at such as qualifications, experience and references,” Quillin said.
Under the terms of the contract, Redflex installed the cameras for free and receives 80 percent of the ticket price, or $40 for the first 95 tickets issued at each approach each month. Kingsport receives the remaining $10. After 95 tickets, Kingsport and Redflex split the $50 fine. The other $50 of each citation is the city’s processing fee or court costs. Total cost of the violation is $100.
From Jan. 1 until Oct. 26, there have been 14,494 violations captured at the eight intersections with red light cameras.