Westminster's Common Council has voted to decommission two red light cameras at Rt. 97 and Rt. 140 due to traffic accident data and costs.
There will be one red light camera remaining in operation at the intersection of Rt. 97 and Nursery Road (turning off of Rt. 97 into the Pet Smart shopping center lot) following Monday night's vote.
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In March 2010 the Westminster Police Department initiated the Automated Enforcement Program (AEP), placing five cameras at two Westminster intersections.
According to a report, the two cameras monitoring the turning lanes from Rt. 140 onto Rt. 97 were decommissioned after the first year because of low violation rates.
Westminster Police Chief Jeffrey Spaulding told council members that the remaining cameras monitoring the through lanes on Rt. 140 at Rt. 97 have seen fewer violations in the last year.
While the total number of crashes has increased over the last four years (two years without the cameras, the last two years with the cameras), Spaulding said the volume of more serious crashes has decreased marginally since the implementation of the cameras.
The rate of minor crashes that do not require a police investigation has increased from one in 2009 to six in 2011 at the Rt. 140/Rt. 97 intersection, according to the report.
Spaulding added that all of the investigated crashes since the implementation of the red light camera can be attributed to failure to reduce speed to avoid a collision, or rear-end collisions.
In addition to not making the intersection significantly safer, Spaulding said the cost to operate the two cameras is more than the amount being charged in fines.
The total cost to operate all three red light cameras was $137,831 from March 2011 to March 2012. The revenue in the same time period was $216,553 for a net revenue of $78,722. Spaulding pointed out that the net revenue is a result of the 2,460 violations at the Rt. 97/Nursery Road intersection and not the combined 646 violations at the other two red light camera locations.
"We always envisioned this to be violater-funded traffic program," Spaulding said. "At minimum we expected to break even so it wouldn’t cost taxpayer money to run the program."
Council member Dennis Frazier suggested decommissioning all three of the currently operating red light cameras.
Spaulding responded that data shows the rate of serious accidents has significantly decreased since implementing the red light camera at the intersection of Rt. 97 and Nursery Road. Additionally, that camera continues to issue enough violations that it covers the cost to operate the camera.
Council member Tony Chiavacci said that if the red light camera is providing a safety benefit, then he would like to see it remain in operation. He said the council should review data again in a year for the Rt. 97/Nursery Road intersection.
"If I recall, the whole point of this was to put itself out of business," Chiavacci said of the red light camera program.