The Redmond City Council took the first step Tuesday toward ending a contract with the city's red-light camera vendor, saying data gathered during the first eight months of a camera pilot program fail to show a significant impact on safety.
Council members asked city staff to prepare a motion to cancel the city's contract with American Traffic Solutions. Tentative plans call for a vote on the matter at the regular Nov. 1 meeting.
The decision to move forward with canceling the contract came as the released the latest data on the camera program, including number of violations and collisions at the city's three red-light camera enforced intersections and one speed-camera enforced school zone area.
Overall, the number of citations that were issued fell slightly over the past several months, from 2,258 citations in April to 2,053 in September. The number of violations that were rejected by the reviewing police officer, however, increased from 298 in April to 404 in September.
With those rejections factored in, the number of infractions the camera vendor captured and sent to Redmond Police for review dropped by just 99 in that same six-month period.
Police Chief Ron Gibson said the variation in rejections by both the reviewing officer and camera vendor American Traffic Solutions over the past eight months make it difficult to extrapolate conclusions from the data.
"When you, for lack of a better term, smooth those numbers out with rejections versus the total events and citations that were actually issued, there's a slight reduction but it is not significant," Gibson said.
Meanwhile, the total number of collisions at the three red-light camera enforced intersections has increased slightly, from 25 in January through September of both 2009 and 2010 to 30 during that same nine-month period in 2011. The number of rear-end collisions at those intersections, however, has remained relatively the same, dropping from 15 in 2010 to 14 in 2011.
Council member Kimberly Allen said negative public input on the program makes it especially difficult to overlook the lack of data showing the cameras have had an impact on safety.
"We have data that's inconclusive...is it enough to offset the community message that we've heard about this?" Allen said. "As I see it, I don't think it is. So I'm not in favor of continuing at this point with the program for the red-light cameras."
But Allen and several other city council members said they were pleased with the effectiveness of the speed camera located on Northeast 116th Street near . Allen said she would like to explore the possibility of finding another vendor to continue the speed camera program, which could also be expanded to other school zones in Redmond.
Council President Richard Cole and other council members also said they want to leave open the option of continuing a red-light camera program on an intersection-by-intersection basis with another vendor in the future. Cole said having the framework in place to pursue those two options will be a critical factor in whether he decides to vote to end the contract with ATS.
"I will support what you guys are going for because I think it's the right way to go, but only if the other motions are coming along," he said.
Camera-enforced warnings and citations
Avondale Rd / Union Hill Rd NE 40th St / 156th Ave NE Redmond Way / 148th Ave NE NE 116th St at Einstein Elementary February (warning period) 859 499 1,093 139 March 769 599 965 129 April 666 555 941 96 May 644 499 183* 107 June 688 508 20* 79** July 439 326 190* 0** August 440 380 384 0** September 747 528 669 109
*The camera at Redmond Way and 148th Ave NE experienced an equipment malfunction during these months that contributed to a decrease in citations.
**The camera at Einstein Elementary was turned off after June 22, when the school year ended.
Source: Redmond Police Department
Editor's note: The city sent out a news release Wednesday afternoon that contained stronger language about the city council's intentions regarding red-light cameras. This story was revised at 6:30 p.m. to include the new information.