A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Photo radar in Albany: A status report

Written April 4th, 2024 by Hasso Hering

Geary Street at Queen Avenue, where speed and red-light cameras will be added.

For the latest on Albany’s forthcoming venture of handing out speeding tickets to drivers caught on photo radar, I asked Police Chief Marcia Harnden for a status report.

In December 2023 the city council authorized the police to contract with Verra Mobility to add traffic cameras at Queen Avenue and Geary Street and install both red-light and speed cameras at three other intersections.

Verra Mobility is a worldwide company that acquired Arizona-based Redflex in 2021. Redflex has operated the city’s only red-light cameras on two approaches at Queen and Geary since the cameras were installed in 2007.

On Wednesday, Harnden told me that the contract with Verra Mobility was still making the rounds for signatures “after back-and-forth language adjustments.”

The contract will be made public when everybody has signed, and then I’ll report on what it provides.

“Once signed,” the chief wrote, “we will set a schedule for installation. We are taking a tiered approach so we don’t overload our court and staff too quickly.”

The first two intersections on the city’s list:

— At Queen and Geary, the existing red-light cameras will be enhanced with speed cameras. Presumably the plan still is to add red-light and speed cameras to the two approaches not already covered.

— On North Albany Road, red-light and speed cameras will be set up at Thornton Lake Drive in the school speed zone. From 7 to 5 on school days, the speed limit there is 20 mph.

Harnden said school schedules will be uploaded to the Verra Mobility system. The system will enforce the normal 40 mph limit when school is not in session.

“Once we get used to the volume at these locations,” Harnden wrote, “we will schedule installation” at the other two intersections: Queen and Elm, and Geary and Santiam Road.

Previously, the chief said the four camera locations would probably yield between 15,000 and 17,000 tickets a year. Her preliminary estimate of annual ticket revenue was $3 million, minus payments to the state and counties that state law requires.

Anticipating the additional workload in municipal court, the city council last week raised each of the three city court employees one step on the salary scale and agreed to hire an additional clerk.

Enforcement using the new cameras will start once the public has been given notice. When that happens, you’ll hear about it lots of places, including here. (hh)

Looking at the Queen/Geary intersection, where traffic cameras will be upgraded, on a bike ride March 30.

42 responses to “Photo radar in Albany: A status report”

  1. Richard S. says:

    And now the city says they need to hire more employee(s) to handle the expected volume! As if screwing the residents wasn’t enough with the camera money-grab, now they want to add more expense to the taxpayer load!

    …maybe if they just sent a police car up to NA Road, and Gibson Hill, as it approaches the death-circle!
    What a concept! …Time to make some major changes in City Hall!

    • Scott Miller says:

      Don’t you think an officer in a patrol car waiting for someone to speed up the hill is a waste of resources?

      • Craig says:

        Let’s put a cop on North Albany Hill 24/7. How many lives would it save?

        Ok, that’s harsh. How many accidents would it prevent? How many accidents on North Albany Road in the past year?

        This is a money grab from a sleezy company. Just google it.

        BTW, the good citizens of Chicago that got ripped off, didn’t get any of the 20 Million dollar reward.

  2. Don says:

    Someone is making a lot of money in the name of safety.

  3. david pulver says:

    small cars cant speed in albany. they must go slow to drive around the pot holes in the streets. .

    • Peg Richner says:

      If anyone who doesn’t live in Albany should observe me trying to avoid potholes on city streets they would likely think it was a drunk driver!

      Just think, if cameras were installed everywhere the city could get rich on traffic fines for the drunk driving dance around potholes!

      Wondering if the fines for speeding are based on mph above the limit? This city has many stop signs that would be more efficient if they were replaced with “yield” signs.

      And those curbs!

  4. thomas earl cordier says:

    Has there been a history of vehicle accidents/injuries at any of those locations? Had not noticed that. Thank you Council after we elected you; now you attack us when we least expect it. Carma will come your way at the appropriate time.

    • Roger says:

      Yes, prior to the cameras being added at Queen and Geary, that was a high accident intersection.

      • Al Nyman says:

        Define high accident and provide details including recent accident details. If you have a problem, ask Coach K for help. I find that most comments regarding traffic statistics don’t survive scrutiny.

  5. chris j says:

    It is absolutely mind boggling that the citizens of Albany are subject to potholes, low income jobs, high cost housing, homeless camps and crime but then the coup de gras is trying to shake out the little bit left in our pockets with traffic cams. Law abiding citizens are being monitored as if they are the problem. As we have heard the cameras are not always accurate. It is like playing stop light roulette. Please remember how most of the city’s citizens are disregarded in every decision by the current people in power when the time comes to vote for our local government. Even if you have not been affected by the bad decisions they make you should respect the rights of every citizen in Albany.

  6. Louie Kennedy says:

    Now take some of that money and fix some of the Albany streets You have to have 4 wheel drive to Go Down. Any of the streets there so terrible.

  7. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    Interesting. You provided a “status” report and not one sentence mentions “increased safety.”

    A reader can only conclude that the exploitation of this technology is primarily for financial gain. An act of council-sanctioned extortion via a hidden tax. The working class will be hit the hardest.

    Another journalist (H.L. Mencken) was right – “People deserve the government they get, and they deserve to get it good and hard.”

    Getting mad is not the answer. Getting involved is.

    • Ray Kopczynski says:

      “Getting mad is not the answer. Getting involved is.”

      Very, very succinct & spot on! The number of folks I run across on a weekly basis who don’t even know who “their” councilors are is mind boggling. :-(

      Just an aside, but *NO* councilor (even those we may viscerally disagree with at times) EVER goes to bed & dreams “How can I screw the citizens of Albany).

      • Gordon L. Shadle says:

        Interesting comment, RayK.

        I remember about 11 years ago I got involved with some other responsible Albany residents to pass a couple of initiatives that changed the AMC on debt and urban renewal plans.

        I got nothing but grief and personal attacks from you, several other council members, and the Mayor.

        Then I got mad and doubled my efforts to get the initiatives passed.

        Thankfully, we were very, very successful.

        Would you support an initiative to ban speed/red light cameras? Or, would you go on the attack once again to protect this hidden tax you voted for?

        • Ray Kopczynski says:

          1. You re-inforce & prove your point that if you get involved, you can make changes. I said that…

          “I got nothing but grief and personal attacks from you…”

          2. Really?! Show me exactly where I personally attacked you and caused you grief…

          “…we were very, very successful.”

          3. Yes, “you” won that vote with the very small number of voters who bothered to turn out…

          “Would you support an initiative to ban speed/red light cameras? Or, would you go on the attack once again to protect this hidden tax you voted for?”

          4a. No.
          4b. There you go again! Hilarious! Your total disdain for representative governance is always at the forefront of your politics.
          4c. It is a bald-face lie to call it a “hidden tax.”

          Your turn. We can do this ad nauseam…

          • Al Nyman says:

            Isn’t taking money from citizens, whether by hidden tax on telephones, garbage (does the city make money on garbage Ray?), utilities, etc. including fines actually hidden taxes? The cost of collecting the fines is miniscule, although the city has already raised wages plus added another person, so doesn’t the excess over collecting a fine an additional tax. The estimated 17,000 tickets represents a ticket for every 3rd person in Albany (except the population includes many kids and adults that don’t drive) so your extimates are based on fraud as therer is no way you will collect that percentage. Secondly prove your safety statistics that you progressives are throwing around.

        • thomas earl cordier says:

          Right on Gordon. Come on Ray, answer Gordon truthfully for a change.

          • Ray Kopczynski says:

            Exactly what did I state above that is not true? I stand by what I said…

          • Jimmy says:

            Please disclose your libertarian approach before posting anymore we all know over the years there isn’t one government thing that you supported and you won’t. No matter how a program might help local citizens you simply won’t support it it won’t support the schools you won’t support the police you won’t support the the fire department you won’t support the local city council you don’t believe in government at all so please we’ve heard this all before. I’m not saying I support this particular effort but have you seen the nice park out by Timber Ridge School? I guess you don’t like that either. Of course the potholes are bad so go to council and get the government to fix them oh that’s right you don’t want the government to fix anything so go fill the potholes yourself. Good grief

      • Drew S says:

        Right on Ray. The same goes nationally, I’m shocked on how many Americans are unaware what’s happening to this country. You really have to go through the weeds…Research before you vote !!

        • Jimmy says:

          Oh please enlighten what is happening to this country? Lions tigers and bears oh my LMAO

  8. L says:

    I don’t understand why there aren’t blinking lights in school zones during school hours in Albany. It would sure be helpful. Drivers usually do not intentionally speed through school zones. Salem has them.

  9. James Engel says:

    A step or two further.. The City Cop takes a mobile camera out, has a video of your house with blinds closed & makes the claim you’re obviously doing something illegal & arrests you. What proof do they need, you’re hiding behind closed blinds!! Laugh at me if you will, but read George Orwell’s 1984…!!

  10. Craig says:

    15,000 – 17,000 tickets a year? Let’s break that down.

    4 locations. So roughly 3750 tickets per location per year. So roughly 10 tickets a day, 300 tickets a month per location. 300 tickets per month at the bottom of the hill near where I live.

    That’s a lot of VOTERS to vote out the overlords in the Albany City council. As for putting a cop to monitor speeder’s going up North Albany Hill, How many lives would have been saved last year if we had a cop on the hill 24/7? Oh yeah, there are not a lot of accidents in that area. So, it would be a waste of time and energy.

    Everyone who signs the agreement should be voted out.

    A simple google search “Redflex Lawsuits” has 20k+ hits, including a 20 Million dollar payment to the city of Chicago. Verra Mobility Worldwide only has 26K+ hits on lawsuits including New York City.

    Isn’t it nice when the crooks of the city council make their names known. Who would want to do business crooks? The Albany City Council.

  11. chris j says:

    Yes, I did mean “coup de gras”, “blow of fat”. The city’s profiting from every bit of our meager earnings we have left to fatten themselves. They have added too many fees to city services to keep increasing that source of income. Now they are coming for us when we are driving to work and supporting our local businesses, while we see criminal behavior all over Albany not being addressed. They cannot expect us to react positively to these negative changes to our community.

  12. Joanna S says:

    Hasso – as always – many thanks for the update!

  13. Concetta Vanpatten says:

    Nowhere does the article mention what state this is
    Albany, Georgia.or Albany,NY?

  14. Bill Kapaun says:

    Maybe we need a Police Chief that can EFFICIENTLY run a police force. Why do they hire people that have NO connection to the community?

    • James Engel says:

      Bill, Albany had a chance with Cpt Liles. Born, raised in City, joined the PD & worked his way up thru the ranks. Just like the long ago Chief Burkhart. Buy nooooo, the City wanted to get on the rainbow band wagon & we have the present COP. No roots in Albany, has no idea of patrol activities/actiosn in Albany. Plus she has a fat retirement from Washington State & staying in Albany for (5) years she’ll get another fat retirement from PERS..!!!

  15. Diane Branson says:

    Hasso Hering – can you get us a more realistic dollar amount this may bring to the City. I keep reading $3 million annually minus costs. My question is how about a dollar amount on the costs: pay grade increase for 3 current employees including any increase in benefit costs, the addition of a new clerk (salary and benefits), amount being paid to the Vera Mobility (for the purchase, installation and programming), legal fees for both the contract review and changes and an estimate on legal fees for contested tickets. I suspect that all these will add up quickly and this is all BEFORE the cameras are even up and working!

  16. Bill Kapaun says:

    Processing traffic tickets would be low level “clerk” work. Why the raise? Their job would become simpler and deserve a pay cut.

    Or is this a new City Mantra. Give raises to people that are forced to do their job?

  17. Connie says:

    Blah blah blah and they STILL can’t manage to send my water bill so I can pay it!

    • Cheryl P says:

      And you apparently can’t figure out how to pay your bills without someone holding your hand.

      Already had this conversation on FB…some dude whining about how he got a Past Due notice and when he couldn’t pay his bill online or reach anyone by phone he gave up and went on vacation for two weeks and was shocked to discover his water had been shut off when he got back. And of course, it’s all the City’s fault.

      And he wasn’t the only one whining and coming up with all sorts of excuses of why they couldn’t they their bill: “I work full-time, I can’t go to City Hall”, “I work out of town”, “I don’t have a car”, “I’m a single mom with children”, blah blah blah.

      Funny…I didn’t get a bill either and I work full-time and commute an hour each way. So I looked at what I paid the last time, wrote a check and dropped it off at the drop box on my way to work.

      • Connie says:

        You are way overthinking my “stupidity”. The missing bills and other payment problems are a good sign of incompetent programming contractors. We pay them whether they get the job done or not. At some point as this failure continues they should be fired and a new crew brought on.

        The same sort of incident occurred back in the ’90s when the federal government contracted out for programming of system to handle the 401Ks of federal employees. It went on for months in the meantime employees had to send in requests on paper by snail mail. They were eventually fired and a new contract drawn up. They got it going in just a few months.

        And by the way I did go pay my bill in person and it looks like I will being doing so into the (unknown) future. The city has already stated on their site and by mailer that late fees are suspended and ways to contact them regarding this fiasco.

  18. Cheryl P says:

    For all the whining and crying and beating of breasts of how the City is trying to screw over the people for what…speeding and running red lights? Seriously, you’re getting angry about the City making money off of people who can’t obey traffic laws.

    The solution is simple…pay attention when you are driving and you won’t get a ticket.

  19. thomas earl cordier says:

    Will the City/police place LARGE signs at every intersection for one week before activating these cameras. Public notice in ADH is not enough. What metrics will trigger a ticket? 20.1 mph in school zones? 40.1 mph in other places. What will happen to the legacy 5mph grace overage?

  20. Connie J Nelson says:

    Thank you Cheryl P. I have witnessed a semi and numerous cars running red lights.
    Frankly, if you run a red light you are a danger to other drivers and should be ticketed.

  21. Randall says:

    Hopefully every city councilman, police chief and the mayor will be caught in their own trap. We can only hope if they do, they will suffer the same consequences as the regular citizens. The city of San Jose CA. did away with their speed cameras after a few years back in the 1990s. The cameras don’t lie. They caught many high level city and county officials. Some of those cases were deleted before they went through the process. I can’t stand corrupt government officials.

  22. khas says:

    Could they at least allocate some of the new funds to fix the closest crosswalk from the school so it has warning lights when children are crossing over, I would think child safety is the reason for these cameras, right? Also fix the signs so they are not blocked by vegetation — even better, use blinking speed lights showing the current speed.

  23. Grape Ape says:

    I don’t know about other schools but 34th Ave. Has 2 elementary schools, 1 high school, several churches, and day care but school zone is posted. People drive 40- 50 mph. Up and down it. There is quite a few accidents between 7-11 and Waverly/Columbus plus trying to get from 1 to the other in mornings and afternoon takes forever especially right by high school. Should have flashing lights all the way down. I noticed recently on stop light on 34th and Hill are cameras look like surveillance cameras and not red-light, or radar


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