Photo radar location causes controversy

Reported by: Tim Joyce
Last Update: 12/04 5:09 pm
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One of two mobile photo radar units use by Portland Police (City of Portland)

“This is where the speed limit officially changes, not way up there on the bridge” Benjamin Barber stands at West Burnside and Northwest 2nd Avenue in Downtown Portland. “These people rightfully should not have been ticketed, so they should have their money refunded to them.”
Barber is a man on a mission. He says he and a friend have spent hours talking to different agencies trying to get answers when it comes to the photo radar tickets that originate from a mobile unit operated by Portland Police’s traffic division.
A web developer by trade, Barber says it’s disturbing that photos showing a driver on the bridge itself would be getting a citation for going over 25 miles an hour. The speed limit according to the most recent Oregon Department of Transportation directive called a speed zone order should be 35 miles an hour from SW 2nd on the west to Martin Luther King Blvd on the east.
He says it’s one thing to try and slow down traffic and save lives. But, he says he has a problem with giving drivers tickets who are actually following the letter of the law, which he says is unfair and sneaky. “It’s another thing for the government to try and extort money from taxpayers by basically lying to them about what the proper speed limit is.”
Barber says he’s been trying to figure out if it’s an honest mistake or if it’s a calculated move for the city to make money. “It makes me upset,” he says, “because this is people’s hard earned money”.
KOIN Local 6 got some answers for Barber and for anyone who’s gotten a citation on the Burnside Bridge. Lt. Brian Parma with the traffic division of Portland Police says a company called RedFlex provides the software for the mobile photo radar, the vans are owned and operated by Portland Police.
Police say they have been enforcing the posted speed limit on the bridge. Since the 35 mph sign is on the bridge above what would be between First and Naito Parkway, that means that the 25 mph downtown speed limit continues a block and a half too far.
They say because of recent complaints, like Barber’s, they will be changing their practices around the Burnside Bridge. In particular, they’re going to try and be more careful about where they place the photo radar van and make sure it’s adjusted for the right speed based on which direction the camera is pointed.
While moving the speed limit sign to where it should be might seem like the easiest fix, that’s out of their hands. Lt. Parma says the bridge is run and maintained by Multnomah County- and moving the sign would be something that’s up to the county.
“Until the issue is resolved,” says the lieutenant, “we’re modifying our practices.”