MOUNTLAKE TERRACE — Cameras to catch red-light violators could go up as early as next year.
Mountlake Terrace may join a growing number of cities around the region that hand out traffic tickets based on violations captured on camera.
Lynnwood police have sent out thousands of tickets and collected hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines to the registered owners of vehicles photographed running red lights. Everett has set aside money to install cameras.
The cameras are triggered by sensors in the road that can detect when a driver runs a red light or doesn’t stop completely to take a right-hand turn on a red light. The photographs and video of the violation are reviewed by a police officer and the $124 ticket is mailed to the registered owner of the vehicle.
A study is expected to begin in Mountlake Terrace in the coming days to determine if it makes sense to install cameras at intersections around the city. Seven locations have been selected as potential sites and a survey will be done at each intersection to decide if it’s feasible, Mountlake Terrace Police Chief Scott Smith said.
“They’re all on main thoroughfares, and it all depends on the survey. If out of seven it says we only need two, then we’ll only put up two,” he said.
It’s not about making money, Smith said. The idea is to improve safety and the traffic flow through the city, he said.
“There’s no question some cities have made a lot of money. That’s not our goal,” Smith said. “It’s really an issue of safety.”
Red-light violators run the risk of crashing with other cars and they also bog down traffic and clog intersections. That’s especially evident along the 220th Street SW corridor, where traffic is thick during the morning and evening commutes.
“It creates backup. People become angry and mad and it doesn’t move traffic along,” Smith said.
The city has a contract with Redflex Traffic Systems to conduct the study. They’ll install cameras at seven intersections for a short time to get an idea if red-light runners are a problem and whether it’s possible to put up cameras at those locations.
The cameras won’t cost the city anything, city manager John Caulfield said.
Redflex will be paid from the fines the city collects from the violators. They charge $4,800 per intersection. Anything above that amount goes to the city, Caulfield said.
“The city can only gain from this, but that’s not why we’re doing it,” he said. “We’re doing it to cut red-light violators.”
Reporter Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463 or firstname.lastname@example.org.