Avondale turns on red-light cameras

Lynh Bui
The Arizona Republic
Feb. 20, 2006 12:00 AM

Red-light runners won't be smiling at the newest cameras in Avondale.

Today, the city launches its red-light photo-enforcement program, a first for the West Valley.

The cameras will snap pictures at the city's two most dangerous intersections: Dysart Road at McDowell Road and Dysart at Van Buren Street, which have accounted for about 500 collisions and 80 injury accidents since 2000.

Drivers will have a 30-day grace period before the city begins issuing $140 citations.

"The theory behind the cameras is to reduce accidents, which also means less time by officers doing investigations" and more time patrolling the city, Avondale Police Chief Kevin Kotsur said.

The number of cars traveling along Dysart Road has increased in recent years with the development of such popular shopping centers as Coldwater Plaza.

June Lageschutle of Avondale said Dysart Road is "always busy" and hopes the cameras will keep the area safe.

"We try to avoid driving on Dysart Road, but there are times when you have to travel it," she said. "The cameras could be advantages."

The cameras are on a one-year trial run. After that time, the city will review the program's effectiveness and decide whether to continue using the devices.

Avondale's red-light program starts two days before Scottsdale's photo-enforcement cameras will hand out warnings for speeders along Loop 101. Scottsdale will now roll out fines beginning at $157. The state Senate recently sent a bill to the House that would prohibit speed- enforcement cameras on freeways, including the ones currently being used in Scottsdale.

Six other cities in the Valley use photo enforcement, including Chandler, Mesa, Tempe, Phoenix, Scottsdale and Paradise Valley. Glendale is studying the cost of having a red-light camera pilot program.