Latest red-light photo-enforcement numbers still show a reduction

With one notable exception, red-light, photo-enforced intersections and school zones continue to drop, though at a slower pace than in previous years, according to the Auburn Police Department's latest report card on the program, "Photosafe Auburn, First Quarter Review, Jan.-March 2014."

Assistant Police Chief Bill Pierson presented the Municipal Services Committee the latest numbers on the program Monday afternoon at City Hall.

The City spends about $180,000 every year to Scottsdale-Ariz.-based RedFlex Traffic Systems to keep it going. Today it is spending more money than it's taking in.

The City launched the program on June 30, 2006 at two intersections: Auburn Way South and 4th Street Southeast; and at Auburn Way South and M Street Southeast. It added Harvey Road and 8th Street in December of that year.

Today the program numbers 17 cameras throughout the city, including safety cameras for Mt. Baker Middle School and in the school safety zones of Chinook, Dick Scobee, Lea Hill, Lakeland Hills and Arthur Jacobsen elementaries.

The data compare the third quarters of the years 2010 to 2014, showing the percentage of red-light violations, that is, the total number written by officers, as opposed to actual infractions issued:

• Auburn Way South and 4th: southbound, -23.1 percent; northbound, -23.5 percent;

• M Street and Auburn Way South: westbound, -13 percent, northbound, -12 percent;

• Eighth and Harvey, +105.3 percent;

• Total: -14.8 percent.

Auburn Police Assistant Chief Bill Pierson attributed the increase at Eighth and Harvey to the completion of intersection improvements at the intersection, including the installation of two left turn lanes onto Eighth Street, which have added traffic, and completion to the south of the M Street underpass.

Officers who review the video clips RedFlex provides may decide not to issue infractions based on a number of reasons, including unreadable or obstructed plates, emergency vehicles, inclement weather and the officer's own discretion.

The first-quarter data for school zone speed enforcement is as follows:

• Dick Scobee, -50.9 percent;

• Chinook, -38.2 percent;

• Mt. Baker, -38.7 percent;

• Lea Hill Elementary -41 percent;

• Arthur Jacobsen Elementary -91.2 percent;

• Lakeland Hills, -99.2 percent.

City officials say the program's primary goal is to improve traffic safety through reduction of red-light violations and associated collisions and to reduce speeding in designated school zones.

City officials originally took revenue from the program left over after all expenses are paid and dedicated it to other areas of the city under the umbrella of traffic calming, but the program today is running at a deficit.

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