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Columbia Missourian

Columbia four months away from sixth red-light-traffic camera

By Camille Phillips
January 14, 2011 | 5:50 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — The city is moving forward with plans to install 11 more red-light traffic cameras after a ruling Wednesday by the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission.

The most likely location of the next camera will be at Vandiver Drive and Range Line Street, Assistant City Manager Tony St. Romaine said. It will be at least four months before it is installed.

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Gatso USA, the company under contract with the city to install and maintain the cameras, still needs to conduct on-site observations and submit engineering designs to the state for approval, he said.

St. Romaine said that other locations for cameras had yet to be identified.

As mentioned in a previous Missourian article, the new state rules require a city police officer to review photos and issue tickets. A trained civilian employee with the police department had been doing the job, St. Romaine said.

One of the reasons the city liked the technology was that it “freed up their officers” from patrolling those intersections, but now a licensed police officer will have to spend several hours a week reviewing the photos, St. Romaine said.

“We still think it’s a benefit to the city to continue moving forward,” St. Romaine said.

The city was already meeting the three other state requirements. The city sends out a news release before beginning operation of each additional camera, fulfilling the requirement for a public awareness campaign, St. Romaine said.

Signs are already posted 300 feet before intersections with cameras, and they will continue to be posted with each additional installation, St. Romaine said. Finally, the Columbia Police Department already compiles an annual safety and citation report and sends it to the Missouri Department of Transportation.

According to a review by the city’s internal auditor, John Blattel, the city’s net revenue from tickets issued as a result of the cameras was $18,046.94 for fiscal year 2010.

According to a memo dated Dec. 21 from St. Romaine to City Manager Bill Watkins, accidents were down 10.6 percent at the intersections that have cameras. He stated in the memo that he came up with the percentage based on data he acquired from the Columbia Police Department.