Everett on path to have red light ticket cameras
EVERETT — The city is now soliciting bids to add automated red light cameras at six intersections, after the City Council voted 6-1 to proceed.
Vendor responses are due in May. If the council approves, the cameras could become operational sometime next year.
No contract is signed. The council will be asked this summer to vote on whether to approve the winning camera company.
Councilwoman Liz Vogeli, though, punctuated the significance that seeking bids is a definitive step to Everett having cameras “unless something weird happens.”
The six camera locations written into the bid request are:
• Broadway at 16th Street, with red light cameras monitoring Broadway northbound and southbound
• Rucker Avenue at 41st Street, watching Rucker northbound and southbound
• Evergreen Way at Casino Road, northbound and eastbound
• 4th Avenue W. at Evergreen Way, northbound
• Everett Mall Way at 7th Avenue SE, westbound; and
• 112th Street SW at Evergreen Way, eastbound
These six intersections rank citywide as having the most red light-related crashes between 2015 and 2020, from city traffic data. The selections were made based on this.
Additionally, a school speed zone camera would be installed at Horizon Elementary on Casino Road.
The Snohomish Ebony PAC and NAACP Snohomish County sent council a joint letter opposing red light cameras.
It points out that five of the six placements are in areas with higher concentrations of people of color. They also note how a $124 red light camera citation is a regressive penalty; $124 exceeds a full day’s pay for a minimum wage worker, the letter notes.
Councilwoman Mary Fosse sought to pause the bid process by a month to have targeted outreach meetings done to hear more from people of color. The council declined Fosse’s request in a 5-2 vote; a few said the listening meetings could be held during the roughly 60-day period for bidding and selecting the vendor for council’s approval.
The Snohomish County Transportation Coalition supports red light cameras for safety.
“The clear consistency of a camera dramatically improves results” and removes police officer interactions from the equation, its director Brock Howell told the council. “We view this as a harm-reduction strategy” until intersection improvements are made.
In the final vote to take red light cameras out for bids, council members were mixed.
Councilwoman Paula Rhyne gave the sole ‘no’ vote to the red light camera program.
The intent is safety, but “the impact is systemic inequity,” Rhyne said. “I support safe streets for all, but not at the expense of communities of color, so I remain a ‘no’ vote on this issue.”
Some of her colleagues verbally acknowledged equity is an issue, but spoke to how safety improvements are needed.
Councilman Ben Zarlingo described it as a “well-considered plan” in that “we’ve seen a careful analysis done. A selection of the most hazardous intersections, and one school zone, and on the directions of travel” for where to place the cameras.
Councilwoman Judy Tuohy called it “a step in the safety of our community,” noting she has heard shuddering crashes at 41st and Rucker.
Councilman Don Schwab said he’d like red light cameras to be a part of a larger comprehensive plan for traffic safety.
The city began discussing red light cameras more than 10 years ago, but never installed any.
Council President Brenda Stonecipher noted the issue is not getting any better.
Any contract with the winning red light camera supplier is anticipated to be for five years.
The city’s red light camera program is predicted to be almost net-neutral in revenue.
The program will cost an estimated $1.16 million a year covered by $1.38 million a year in violation tickets.
The excess revenue would go toward traffic safety improvements. In January, council members said they desire any revenue to be specifically directed to improving the intersections where the cameras are installed.
An annual activity report would be required to be produced under state law, city traffic engineer Corey Hert said.
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