Red light cameras net hundreds of thousands in Alexandria

Intersection with red light cameras in Alexandria. (WTOP/Kathy Stewart)

WASHINGTON – Red light camera programs are not without controversy, but after seven months since the program began in Alexandria, the results are in.

The cameras are making a financial difference in Alexandria with nearly 9,400 tickets having been issued since August, at $50 a pop. That’s about $234,000 says Lt. Len Fouch with the Alexandria Police Department, who oversees the camera program.

But, he says that’s before REDFLEX Traffic Systems, the company that runs the cameras, gets paid. In July, the cameras were installed at three intersections: Duke and Walker streets; Gibbon and South Patrick streets and Franklin and South Patrick streets. But tickets didn’t start going out until August.

Alexandria resident Ray Riley thinks the cameras are a good thing, especially at the Franklin Street and South Patrick Street intersection.

“Everyone around here knows about the cameras,” he says. “You can see the type of intersection this is.”

The intersection has seen more accidents in 2011, with the cameras, than during 2009 or 2010.

“I’m surprised to hear that because those cameras usually have a chilling effect on traffic,” Riley says.

Lt. Fouch says overall there’s been a decrease in accidents citing a three year study. The accidents that are happening at the intersections are not as serious.

“As far as injuries verses fender-benders, we have more fender-benders now.”

Most people WTOP spoke with are for the program, including Anthony Lopez, an Alexandria resident who got a red light warning.

“I think probably a little bit more, more cameras should be around,” says Lopez.

Henry Templeman, who drives past one of the red light camera intersections on his way to work says, “Mainly, they’re trying to capitalize on tickets during the rush.”

And Marlo Ford, who lives in Alexandria says, “A lot of people think it’s a money-catcher. But I’m still convinced that municipalities wouldn’t make money if people obeyed the lights.”

Lt. Fouch says the amount of tickets generated by the cameras is disturbing. Over a six or seven month period, more than 9,000 people ran a red light. He says the money is a side benefit, and he emphasized that the cameras are about enhancing safety.

The lieutenant say he’s also seen a dramatic decrease in the number of telephone complaints from citizens. But his department does have a Photo Safety Hotline at 703-746-1900 and an email address.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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