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Council renews, extends red light camera contract
The Bellevue City Council on Monday approved expanding the use of red light cameras in the city for the next five years.The five-year contract extension with American Traffic Solutions adds three more red light cameras and an additional school zone camera to the five currently operating in Bellevue.
Bellevue Police reported in March a revenue gain of $2.3 million over the four full years of operating the photo enforcement program, paying $249,000 annually for the ATS service. The department also reported a 48-percent decrease in infractions at these targeted locations from 2010 to 2013.The city had been operating on a month-to-month agreement with ATS since May while council awaited answers to enforcement questions.
Traffic enforcement cameras were authorized by the council in 2009, with two school speed zone cameras at Stevenson and Lake Hills elementary schools and red-light cameras at the north and southbound intersections of 148th Avenue Northeast and Bel-Red Road and southbound 148th Avenue Northeast and Main Street.
Council on Monday approved expanding the photo enforcement program to include red-light cameras at Northeast Eighth Street and 116th Avenue Northeast westbound, Northeast Eighth and 112th Avenue Northeast east and westbound and a southbound speed zone camera for Sunset Elementary at West Lake Sammamish Boulevard.
The cost for the program will now be $441,000 annually. The city anticipates the four new cameras will bring in $690,000 in revenue next year.Police Capt. John McCracken, who heads up the program, told councilmembers 90-95 percent of infractions are by first-time violators. That means forgiving the first violation would "bankrupt" the project, he said in response to council questions.
"There was no way to spin that so it would work," he said.
Police will issue motorists warnings during the first month, but only where the new cameras are active, McCracken said.
Councilmember Jennifer Robertson opposed continuing the traffic enforcement cameras program, saying the city should have officers out writing citations. She added revenue should go to pedestrian and school safety projects, rather than the general fund.