A speed camera facing west along 220th Street Southwest on Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2023 in Edmonds, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

A speed camera facing west along 220th Street Southwest on Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2023 in Edmonds, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Traffic cameras, and tickets, come to Edmonds; Mukilteo could be next

New school zone cameras in Edmonds will begin operating in January. Mukilteo is considering enforcement cameras as well.

EDMONDS — Automated traffic cameras are becoming much more common in Snohomish County.

Everett and Lynnwood already have red-light traffic camera programs. This year’s legislative session brought more as well. Speed cameras in highway work zones are now state law.

Now, Edmonds will get enforcement cameras as well.

Mukilteo could be next.

The automatic cameras bring in ticket revenue to city coffers, and there’s evidence out there that traffic cameras make roads safer, too. If you follow the links I put in my stories at all, you probably already know I’m a sucker for a good study. And in this case, a study published in Injury Prevention, a medical journal, found that red-light cameras reduced speeding violations by half. The study was centered around four elementary schools in Seattle about 10 years ago.

“Reducing motorist speed near schools during school hours is an important public health goal that can potentially be achieved with automated speed enforcement cameras,” the study reads.

In Edmonds, an attempt to reach that public health goal will begin in about two months. Beginning in January 2024, cameras will cover five intersections in four school zones, near Edmonds-Woodway High School, Westgate Elementary School, Scriber Lake High School and Chase Lake Elementary School.

School zones are based on time. They are active in the morning and in the afternoon, when most students are coming to or leaving school. During that time, lights around speed limit signs blink, alerting drivers of a lower speed limit.

Once the Edmonds cameras are turned on in January, there will be a 30-day grace period. During that time, violators will receive a warning notice in the mail. After those 30 days, a photographed traffic violation will result in a ticket, which are about $130.

The city is building a website with an online portal to track infractions and warnings, a city release said. Approval for the cameras came nearly a year ago from city council.

In February 2023, the city passed a resolution and an ordinance allowing for school zone cameras. Edmonds City Council heard numerous public comments, which painted a vivid picture of dangerous intersections.

The city later entered into a contract with Verra Mobility, a company that works to improve safety at traffic signals. The cameras would cost around $5,000 each per month, according to the city’s proposed budget. However, during recent budget deliberations for next year’s fiscal budget, the City Council voted against expanding the program, despite an Edmonds police presentation prior to the vote.

The project description in the city’s proposed budget said the red light camera program would have cost $180,000. If it had been approved, the expansion of red light cameras was estimated to bring in $3.5 million in revenue over its first eight months.

It does seem Edmonds might pick up that expansion discussion again, but for now, it’s just the school cameras.

Mukilteo is considering similar cameras as well, and in June, the city began studying the feasibility. The police department took a look at some problem intersections they had identified and, probably not very shockingly, found that a lot of people speed in areas with high pedestrian traffic.

In a proposed ordinance, the police reported that near the Rosehill Community Center, about 15% of traffic moving south was speeding. And in two school zones, over 80% of traffic was speeding while the school zone lights were flashing.

Revenue projections by the police department from the cameras totaled over $1.4 million. The department also argued the cameras could help with staffing levels.

“Traffic-related calls for service remain our number one response,” the ordinance reads. “However, without significantly increasing the staffing of the Police Department, we struggle to give proper attention to all of the competing demands for service, including effectively monitoring and providing enforcement to all of our school and park zones.”

Got questions, comments? Send us an email at StreetSmarts@HeraldNet.com.

Jordan Hansen: 425-339-3046; jordan.hansen@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @jordyhansen.

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