Albany sends camera packing - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Albany sends camera packing

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October 9, 2007

Albany --  The red light cameras at a busy Albany intersection are coming down before anyone ever got a ticket because of them. The cameras went up to catch red light runners at North Jefferson Street and Pine Avenue more than a year and a half ago.

But city leaders say the system never worked right, and they plan to scrap it.

Red Light Camera system went up in January 2006, to take pictures of drivers who run the red light, and ticket them. But more than a year and a half later, no tickets have ever been issued.

City officials say the cameras work, taking video of cars running the red light, but some violations are not recorded.  City of Albany Director of Engineering Bob Alexander said "we have observed that it doesn't pick up every violation. And I don't think the community would feel comfortable if it was a hit and miss operation."

The city will not lose any money by returning the cameras. This red light camera system was purchased from Siemens Corporation with a $150,000 grant from the Department of Transportation. But no payments have ever been made because the city was never satisfied.

Alexander said "since it never really met our specifications, we have refused to make any payments."

So Albany officials told Siemens they are returning the camera system, and will not have to pay any money. Now they are turning their attention to finding another camera system that does work correctly. Traffic studies show that since the red light camera went up, crashes at that intersection are down 75 percent, and engineers say that shows the cameras really work.

Alexander said, "we've seen a significant reduction in the amount of people running the red light. And if we put them in other locations, we will have similar responses."

Alexander says he hopes the city will have a new red light camera system up in about four months. The city will return the grant money to the Department of Transportation, they are looking at leasing the next camera system, following the model of red light cameras that Tifton has used successfully.

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