Lynnwood is the only city in Snohomish County using traffic-enforcement cameras. Everett is considering adding the devices. (Dan Bates / Herald file)

Lynnwood is the only city in Snohomish County using traffic-enforcement cameras. Everett is considering adding the devices. (Dan Bates / Herald file)

Everett reconsidering traffic-enforcement cameras

A plan with seven cameras was shelved a decade ago, citing erratic driving councilmember reassess.

EVERETT — A decade after shelving a plan to install traffic-enforcement cameras, the idea is resurfacing in Everett.

In 2009, the city was set to install the devices at four intersections and outside one school in south Everett, issuing tickets starting at $124 each. A $2 million, five-year contract for seven cameras was authorized before the city put the project on hold as a legal challenge to red-light cameras was making its way through King County Superior Court.

By the time the courts dismissed the lawsuit, the city had lost interest, said Ryan Sass, Everett’s director of public works.

Councilmember Brenda Stonecipher revived the idea after hearing complaints from residents about erratic driving and near misses with pedestrians. The proposal is working its way through the council’s public safety committee.

“We have way more distracted drivers now who aren’t quite paying attention and that’s really the scary part,” Councilmember Judy Tuohy said.

During a recent committee meeting, staff pointed to a study that showed cities with the cameras experienced 21% fewer fatal collisions caused by running a red light. But interestingly, if removed, the number of these deadly accidents increased by 30% — more than they initially went down. That uptick could just be temporary, Sass said. He emphasized the safety aspect during the meeting, citing studies that show cities with cameras are trading higher risk collisions for a few rear end accidents.

“Which is a trade a traffic engineer is always going to want to make,” Sass added.

The 2009 proposed traffic enforcement locations. (Everett)

The 2009 proposed traffic enforcement locations. (Everett)

Not everyone is convinced traffic cameras are simply a safety program, but also a way for cities to generate revenue.

Last year in Lynnwood, the only city in Snohomish County with traffic-enforcement cameras, the controversial devices generated $3.4 million in revenue. The city deploys 12 red-light and four school-zone speed cameras. Years ago, after repeated questions and records requests from The Daily Herald, leaders at City Hall and the police department admitted they had become dependent on the camera cash flow.

Monroe deactivated its traffic-enforcement cameras in 2014, citing concerns about litigation.

Red-light cameras take two pictures of vehicles and records a few seconds of video. Images can only be taken of the rear license plate, according to Tim Miller, a traffic engineer.

Near schools, cameras use radar to measure speeds of passing vehicles. Multiple pictures are captured, which must include a view of the flashing lights on the school zone sign.

A police officer then reviews the footage before a fine is mailed out. Akin to a parking ticket, the violations are not reported to insurance companies. Penalties cannot surpass current parking fines, and would likely run between $124 to $250, according to the city.

The revenue can only go toward covering the cost of the photo enforcement program or traffic safety improvements, which could include enhancements to crosswalks and signals or traffic safety emphasis enforcement.

The camera vendor charges $4,750 for each device per month and cannot share in the revenue made from tickets.

The seven locations chosen in 2009 were mostly in south Everett. At that time, it was estimated the city could gross as much as $1 million in fines during the first year.

Got a question? Email me at streetsmarts@heraldnet.com or call 425-374-4165. Please include your name and city of residence.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Norton Playfield, a three-acre play field owned by Housing Hope on Thursday, July 23, 2020 in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Vote nears on Housing Hope’s Everett playfield project

The Everett City Council will deliberate Wednesday on the multi-family, supportive housing proposal.

Driver hits, critically injures pedestrian in Everett

A driver hit a male who ran across the road Saturday night but stayed there and spoke with police.

Marysville School Districts' McKinney-Vento & Foster Care Liaison Deanna Bashour (left to right) Andrea Wyatt, Larisa Koenig and Rosemary Peterson on Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020 in Marysville, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
A new haven of help for homeless students in Marysville

“You name it, if they need it, we’ve got it,” says the Connections Center’s foster care liaison.

The USS Michael Monsoor has been a recent frequent visitor at Naval Station Everett. (Sue Misao / The Herald)
New Navy ship visits Everett base while training near Canada

The USS Michael Monsoor may visit a few more times before it leaves at the end of October.

Pedestrian seriously injured in hit-and-run in Everett

He was expected to survive. A 31-year-old woman was later booked into jail as a suspect.

Everett man who fled scene of hit-and-run fatality sentenced

“I just panicked is all,” said Thomas Rock, who was sentenced to 3 years and 5 months in prison.

Kush Mart on Evergreen Way on Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020 in Everett, Wash.A public hearing and vote to increase the city-imposed cap to eight stores (five are allowed and open now) is scheduled for the City Council on March 18. The state allows up to 10 in Everett. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
City council votes to allow more marijuana shops in Everett

Allowing three more stores, for total of eight, will promote healthy competition, city council members said.

Ian Terry / The Herald

An abandoned car sits on flooded Mann Road in Sultan on Friday, Nov. 13, 2015.

Photo taken on 11132015
County considers raising roads to skirt flooding near Sultan

Ben Howard Road and Mann Road are in line for culverts and elevation gains.

Most Read