Naperville expected to reap $2.4 million in new revenue this year by launching a red-light photo enforcement program that would automatically send tickets to people caught on tape violating traffic signal regulations. Now the city manager says the program is plagued with technical problems, and staff recommend the city council terminate a contract with a company administering the program.
What do you think of the plan to seek bids from other companies? Given this experience and problems with red-light cameras reported in other communities across the country, how wise is it for Naperville to commit to a program at this time? What about the revenue the city expected from the program--no doubt it will be less, maybe lost altogether. How should the council address the revenue shortfall?
Here's the full story from Thursday's Sun:
City may put brakes on program
Problems with company plague red-light cameras
By Bill Bird
The plan was to get Naperville's "automated red light photo enforcement" program up and running with all deliberate speed.
But after weeks of delay brought on by malfunctioning equipment and other technical problems, city officials appear poised to slam on the brakes and start the project up all over again.
City Manager Pro Tem Robert Marshall confirmed Wednesday he and his staff are recommending termination of Naperville's contract with Trafficpax. The company had been hired in September to install traffic law enforcement cameras at Aurora Avenue and Fort Hill Drive and 95th Street and Book Road.
Citing "nonperformance" on Trafficpax's part, Marshall said he thinks the city should seek a new provider of the cameras and other equipment needed to get the program up and running. Marshall said he will make that recommendation to the City Council during Tuesday night's council meeting.
Beginning today, careless drivers caught running red lights or rolling partially or completely through crosswalks at the two intersections were to have been issued $100 tickets for those transgressions.
But a "warning ticket" grace period for reckless motorists that began in March - and which was later extended through April - has been extended yet again. The grace period will now last until further notice.
City officials have said the photo enforcement effort aims to reduce right-angle traffic crashes and collisions that occur during improper turns. It is also designed to lower both the overall number of traffic-related injuries and the number of violations involving red lights.
A city "Automated Red Light Project Team" had been monitoring Trafficpax's progress at the two intersections.
Marshall on Wednesday did not discuss the team's findings, saying only the city was "still having technical difficulties and problems with the installation of the equipment" needed to get the project started.
Problems appear to be most acute at 95th Street and Book Road. Motorists and neighbors have reported seeing installation and repair crews working on equipment there on numerous occasions during March and April.
Other trouble has reportedly occurred with the electronic data feed into the DuPage County Circuit Court system in Wheaton, where court hearings will be held and fines collected from drivers violating laws at the two intersections.
License plate information captured by the cameras is transmitted to the Naperville police station, where police determine what type of violation, if any, has occurred. The appropriate data is then sent electronically to the courthouse, and a letter detailing the violation is mailed to the vehicle's registered owner.
Should City Council members concur with Marshall's recommendation, other companies will be eligible to bid on the photo enforcement program contract.
Marshall, a former Naperville police captain, expressed confidence the project will eventually come to fruition. He also encouraged motorists to obey traffic laws at all times.
"We still believe in the program," Marshall said. "In the meantime, there are still red lights to stop at."