A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Photo enforcement: Details yet to come

Written December 31st, 2023 by Hasso Hering

Screws on the pavement: Another Albany road hazard, though not as frequent as red-light runners.

The Albany City Council left several questions unanswered on Dec. 13 when it approved more photo enforcement of traffic laws on city streets.

The police department requested permission to contract for adding speed cameras to the red-light cameras at Queen and Geary, as well as installing both speed and red-light cameras at three intersections: North Albany and Thornton Lake, Santiam and Geary, and Queen and Elm.

Each of those intersections has four approaches. Would all the approaches get the new cameras? Or just some of them, and which ones? When would all this take place? And how much would the city collect in additional revenue from traffic fines?

I put the questions to Police Chief Marcia Harnden in an email, and she replied the same way.

First, the money angle. Keep in mind that some of the money from traffic fines paid to the Albany Municipal Court goes to the state.

Harnden emphasized that the numbers so far are estimates only. But she said,  “We estimate that AFTER (her emphasis) fees, the amount that goes to the state, we may see $132,800 per month.”

The added city revenue then would pay for personnel costs in both police and the court. Any remaining revenue would go to traffic or public safety improvements, such as crosswalks or better lighting in school zones.

“All locations,” she added in her email, “will be tracked to see changes in collisions and speeds at those locations.”

So which approaches at the four intersections will get the gear for photo enforcement of both speeding and red-light violations?

“This depends on the traffic engineering review (and) analysis at each location,” the chief wrote.”We have done some preliminary analysis of each location, but it is too soon to tell exactly how many cameras and which directions until we enter into a contract.”

And when might the new cameras be installed and operating? The chief wasn’t sure but: “Our best hope is for the second quarter in 2024.”

When more details are known, I hope to pass them along. But even without camera enforcement, how about hitting the brakes when the light is yellow instead of speeding up to get through? (hh)

Geary Street and Santiam Road, where the police plan to install photo enforcement cameras and where, on Dec. 19, my bike and I dodged those screws in the photo on top.

6 responses to “Photo enforcement: Details yet to come”

  1. Bill Kapaun says:

    “The added city revenue then would pay for personnel costs in both police and the court. Any remaining revenue would go to traffic or public safety improvements, such as crosswalks or better lighting in school zones.”

    I’m curious how she decided where it goes? I’m more curious how the City is going to define/redefine that criteria at their convenience.

    Does anybody actually believe what the City says before “an endeavor” isn’t a bunch of disingenuous crap

  2. Randall says:

    There are plenty of studies all across America that show there is no real evidence that traffic cameras reduce the total number of accidents. In fact, some studies show they are the cause of accidents. Accident reduction can simply be achieved by increasing yellow light times by a few seconds.

    I hope the red-light and speed cameras catch every single city and county government official. Then, if the infraction isn’t thrown out before being sent to the courts etc, perhaps they will cancel this unethical practice.

    Catch our leaders breaking the law and they will squeal like little piglets. Read my comments on this subject in past Hasso posts. I speak from first hand knowledge of working with Reflex in San Jose CA.

  3. Cap B. says:

    If your front wheels are in the intersection when the light turns from green to yellow, and another vehicle is “on your bumper,” you will be rear-ended by that other vehicle if you slam on the brakes. What’s more, the Oregon Driver’s Laws say you are “not” breaking the law if you can’t “safely” stop when the light turns yellow. Therefore, you should continue on through the intersection. So, there, Hasso. (You knew I’d reply to that one.)

  4. Birdieken says:

    Heard a great suggestion on school zone cameras going in at North Albany, put flashing lights in and turn them on when school is in session. If you miss the flashing lights, you need a ticket.

  5. sonamata says:

    I drove all around Albany from 11pm to 1a on New Year’s, trying to give my terrified dog relief from hours of illegal fireworks explosions around my house. I saw exactly one police car during my drive. Would love to see data on the staffing, calls, and responses for that night.

    I’m not sure any other city department would receive *more* resources after automating a primary task. Especially a department with the most expensive employees.


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