What's Up With That? Mill Plain-Chkalov red-light cameras don’t develop

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Whatever happened to the red-light traffic enforcement cameras the city of Vancouver said it was going to install at Mill Plain Boulevard and Chkalov Drive?

— One council watcher

They never went in, and it doesn’t look like they ever will. The Vancouver City Council kicked up a lot of red hot tempers when it approved a contract in 2008 to install red-light cameras at intersections around the city where folks have trouble stopping.

Red-light cameras are simply surveillance cameras that snatch the license plate numbers of cars that run red lights. The images they capture are examined by the camera contractor as well as police before citations are sent out through the mail.

The city inked a deal with a company called American Traffic Solutions, one of just two companies that makes the technology, to snap pictures of offenders’ license plates, Vancouver City Attorney Ted Gathe said.

But the company unexpectedly backed out, and when the city tried the second red-light camera company, Gathe said, that didn’t pan out economically.

“Some cities have very extensive red-light (camera) programs” that catch enough people to pay for themselves, he said. “Vancouver was looking at it strictly where it was most needed.”

Since then, work has been done at the Mill Plain and Chkalov intersection that has made the cameras less necessary, in particular recent road improvements that eliminated a tricky left-hand turn.

Still, Gathe said that it does help to have a camera or two around to bust offenders — for safety’s sake. Statistics gathered by cities that use red-light cameras prove more drivers seem to figure out where the brake is when they know they’re being watched.

“When people know (cameras are) there, they watch those lights,” he said.

Andrea Damewood

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