County speed cameras could go dark

2014-01-04T00:00:00Z 2014-01-04T15:30:12Z County speed cameras could go darkBy Joe Ferguson Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Pima County Transportation Department staffers are largely staying out of a decision whether to permanently turn off 11 speed cameras next week.

A memo released on Friday by County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry’s office is neutral on the subject, leaving the actual decision whether to extend the contract with Tempe-based American Traffic Solutions up to the Board of Supervisors.

The contract with the county expires Monday night. Huckelberry said the cameras will remain active until a board decision was made on Tuesday morning.

He said that while the contract will have technically expired by Tuesday morning, the speed limits will still be in place and a judge will have to decide whether a ticket generated from an ATS camera is enforceable.

American Traffic Solutions proposed last month to make substantial changes to where and when the cameras would be used.

The company has suggested taking down as many as seven of 11 existing speed cameras and putting up new, portable devices in front of several public schools.

The proposal does not, however, include any proposal to set up devices near charter schools in Pima County where there are known traffic problems.

A review by county transportation officials said there is no conclusive proof the mere presence of the 11 cameras has been successful in reducing speeding on county roads.

“Fatal crashes due to excessive speed have been reduced, but the (photo enforcement cameras) may not be the underlying reason for the apparent positive results. The data suggests that there are only certain locations that speed has diminished and the differential is small between the before and after data of PEC installation,” wrote Priscilla Cornelio, director of the county’s Transportation Department.

She notes other variables — increased patrols from the Sheriff’s Department and recently completed road work have led to safer streets.

Long-term, Cornelio wrote, the county should focus on developing a strategic plan to better manage speed-enforcement practices, which could include speed cameras if the board decides to continue the contract.

A Sheriff’s Department representative referred a request for comment on the proposal from ATS back to Cornelio.

Huckelberry wrote in the Friday memo that without the backing of the board next Tuesday, the cameras will be turned off.

“The present contract will expire at midnight on January 6, 2014; and without affirmative action on the ATS proposal, all photo speed enforcement cameras in Pima County will be deactivated as soon as practically possible.”

Officials believe ATS has the ability to turn the cameras off remotely.

Contact reporter Joe Ferguson at jferguson@azstarnet.com or 573-4346. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFerguson.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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