Albany and other cities could use their red-light cameras to also catch speeders under a bill pending in the Oregon House. But the sensors at Queen and Geary may not be accurate enough for speeding tickets to stand up in court.
The bill is HB 2409. Its sponsors include Rep. Andy Olson, R-Albany, and Sen. Sara Gelser, D-Corvallis. The House Judiciary Committee, on which Olson serves, held a hearing on the measure last week.
The measure would authorize any city to operate cameras mounted on poles or anywhere else to record drivers that exceed the speed limit by 10 mph or more. It is specific in saying that cities can use their red-light cameras for that purpose. But it also says they can set up cameras to catch speeders anywhere. It’s not clear, but the context suggests that the authorization refers only to cameras tripped by sensors in the pavement.
Existing law already authorizes Albany and nine other cities — not including Corvallis — to operate “photo radar” to enforce speed limits. Photo radar doesn’t need sensors in the ground.
I asked Albany Police Chief Mario Lattanzio whether the red-light cameras at Queen Avenue and Geary Street — the city’s only ones — could be used for speed enforcement too, and if Albany was interested in that idea.
“The intersection at Queen and Geary uses inductive loops for speed determination,” the chief emailed in response. “They may not be accurate enough for speed determination for court, so we would need something else installed like loop/piezo array, digital loops or mapping radar. I haven’t reviewed the bill and I would first need to see what the requirements are for using the cameras. They can be effective if properly deployed.”
At the Feb. 16 hearing, the Judiciary Committee received testimony in support from the cities of Medford and Portland and from the Street Trust, formerly the Bicycle Transportation Alliance. Medford Police Chief Randy Sparacino said some drivers will speed up before an intersection to keep from getting caught by the red-light cameras. “Their speed can lead to accidents with other vehicles, pedestrians and bicyclists,” he wrote.
Portland uses 11 red-light cameras at 10 intersections. All five Portland city commissioners signed a letter in support of the bill. (hh)