A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Speed cameras won’t be all that picky

Written May 11th, 2024 by Hasso Hering

Signs like this will soon appear on North Albany Road, Queen Avenue and Geary Street in Albany. This one is in Medford.

There is good news for Albany drivers worried about the photo radar or speed cameras that will be installed soon at two intersections, including one on North Albany Road.

The news came from Albany Police Chief Marcia Harnden when I asked her whether the speed camera systems would trigger tickets for going just slightly over the posted speeds.

Here’s the chief’s answer, from an email she wrote Friday:

“As for the speed cameras, the law and system is set to detect a violation at 11 MPH over the posted speed limit. So, when school is in session and 20 MPH … is [the] limit at the time, a ticket can be issued at 31 mph or higher. When it goes back to the normal speed limit of 40 MPH,  then a ticket can be issued at 51 MPH.”

Whew! That’s a relief. Drivers who behave reasonably evidently have nothing to fear from photo radar when it comes. Looks like the system won’t be overly picky or strict.

Harnden and City Attorney Sean Kidd have signed the city’s new contract with American Traffic Solutions, doing business as Verra Mobility. The company signed on April 8.

The 24-page contract binds the parties for five years, with five one-year extensions unless either party bows out.

The fee for each “red light and speed enforcement camera system” is $3,000 a month, plus $20 for each paid citation. For the first two years, the price remains unchanged. After that it goes up by the consumer price index or 3 percent, whichever is less.

The contract requires diligent enforcement of tickets. If the city doesn’t do so, the price per camera system goes to $5,250 per month.

After a warning period and a public information campaign, the camera systems will be in operation around the clock starting 60 days after the date the contract was executed. In school zones the systems will enforce school speed limits only when school is in session.

When sending out tickets, Verra Mobility will provide violators with a website and a PIN so drivers can see what the cameras recorded.

The city will be obliged t0 make, mount and maintain signs warning drivers of the traffic cameras. (In Medford, where speed cameras have a long history, I took a photo of such a sign.)

The contract with Verra Mobility was accompanied by a “notice to proceed” with installation of red light and speed camera systems on two intersections, with two aproaches each.

On North Albany at Thornton Lake Drive, the cameras will watch the northbound and southbound aproaches on North Albany.

At Queen Avenue and Geary Street, both speed and red light cameras will watch the same approaches that for years have had red light only cameras: westbound on Queen and southbound on Geary.

Why just two intersections when the city council last December authorized the police department to contract for traffic cameras at four?

Chief Harnden explains:

“The plan is to install or upgrade those two locations first, allow for the court and staff to adjust to the increased workload then add the remaining locations. I am mindful that these tickets still have human interactions to move them along and we don’t want to increase the workload all at once.”

When the cameras go live, the chief said, Verra Mobility and the city will publicize a webpage with answers to common questions Albany drivers are likely to have.

In the meantime, watch for those warning signs to go up. (hh)

17 responses to “Speed cameras won’t be all that picky”

  1. Rick says:

    They Need to put the Camera at Broadway and Queen not Elm as it stands as soon as people pass the West Albany High they stomp on it . Usually by the time they reach Lincoln and Queen they are doing 50 in a 25 . I cross repeatedly and have been almost hit 4 times already this year I wear a Orange reflective Vest and my Dog has a reflective Vest and a lighted collar over the last 10 years we have had 29 close calls . One so close the drivers mirror scraped my back . I have complained to police I have requested the speed meter over 1500 times and every time they put the stupid thing down almost at the city limit which does no good to anyone. The new pedestrian cross has helped a little ..A full stop light would be better. Hopefully the traffic cam will help. Or one day someone is going to hit my dog and when that happens it will be gruesome .

    • Abe Cee says:

      Maybe don’t cross when cars are coming and assuming they will slow down?

    • Bill Kapaun says:

      If your dog has a lighted collar, that infers you are out after dark. Go earlier.

  2. REO says:

    School Zones: So does that mean someone at Verra Mobility or Albany PD is going to program the system to match the school calendar????? What about days during a given week when school is not in session such as holidays, contract days, etc. Will they adjust for that? That could be an administrative nightmare waiting to happen.

    • Bill Kapaun says:

      Not to defend it, but I’m sure there is a time stamp on the photo. When in doubt, ticket and let the “victim” fight it.

  3. Richard Vannice says:

    Do the cameras get a photo of both the front and rear of the speeding vehicle?

    If they don’t then how can a citation be issued to a vehicle that has no front plate?

  4. Bob Stalick says:

    As I was heading home on North Albany Road yesterday, I was passed by a person on a motorcycle–going well over the speed limit and accelerating as he zoomed past me up Gibson Hill. Too bad the camera wasn’t there yet!

    • Bill Kapaun says:

      As I’ve been living in Albany for 44 years, there’s lots of vehicles that have passed me at high speed. What’s so special?

      • Coffee says:

        Bill K. Don’t be like Ray K. and criticize everything that you didn’t originate.
        “Speed Kills.” That is an old saying that I’m sure you have come across. Everyone has a different internal clock…Rick should be able to walk his dog at a time that works for him and the dog without having to deal with people who are breaking the law by driving too fast. Also, there is no successful fighting of a ticket issued by a camera. Hasso pointed out in his blog post that the city and the outfit supplying the cameras have an agreement that the camera company will up the monthly charges to the city if the city doesn’t “diligently” pursue the issuing of citations. That is, the city has to find everyone guilty as charged or pay a couple thousand dollars more a month for the cameras. And, yes, the cameras do take a picture of both the front of vehicles and the back.

        • Kenny Kelly says:

          Speed has never killed anyone. Inattentive driving and pedestrians is what kills. A car sitting still on a jack can kill you just as dead as a 100 mph car.

          • Coffee says:

            Oh for Cripe’s Sake….the faster a car is going before it crashes, the more apt people riding in it are to be killed. That is a fact.

          • Craig B. says:

            Reminds me of a license plate frame I saw about 40 years ago on a very nice looking hotrod. It said, “High performance cars don’t kill. Low performance drivers do”. (thought I’d throw that in there)

        • Bill Kapaun says:

          Right Coffee, screw common sense! Sure you aren’t Cap B under a different name?

  5. Pat says:

    The Chief makes it clear why many drivers believe that going “10 over”, regardless of posted speed, is the actual speed limit. Makes it tough on a few that try to drive the posted speed on city streets, highways and interstates.

  6. Garry says:

    It’s more the principle of mass surveillance being totally creepy and a complete violation of the Constitution. ‘Safety’ or not, no form of mass surveillance should be allowed

  7. Craig says:

    Serious question: what about bicycles? Will the light camera honor the “stop as yield law” which was passed in January of 2020?

  8. GrapeApe says:

    I don’t think we need these expensive cameras by school zones we need speed bumps in all surrounding areas of schools especially 2 to 3 blocks from school. Put the same height as the big speed bump on marion. This would make people slow down. I have been on marion st and everyone is slowing down to go over it. They can even nail them down instead of doing the whole road


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