MOSES LAKE – Two new red light cameras will be added on South Pioneer Way in Moses Lake.
The city council Tuesday night approved by a 4-3 vote having two Redflex cameras installed facing northbound and southbound on Pioneer Way at East Hill Avenue. The council rejected, for now, having two other cameras installed on North Stratford Road at the WinCo Foods and Walmart intersection.
Councilmember Ryann Leonard requested city staff to conduct further study on the Stratford Road intersection light, voicing concerns over the left-turn arrow and the timing of the red light. The city would also likely have to work the state Department of Transportation due to the camera proximately to state Route 17.
Mayor Karen Liebrecht also voted against the Stratford Road cameras to allow time for further study.
Moses Lake police Chief Kevin Fuhr told the council he has been working with Redflex Systems, which conducted a survey of both the Stratford Road and Pioneer Way intersections, as well has intersections of West Broadway Avenue and West Valley Road. The survey showed 73 red light violations at Pioneer and Hill, and 78 at the Stratford intersection during a 12-hour period.
Fuhr added both intersections have been problematic in recent years, with 39 collisions at Stratford and the WinCo/Walmart intersection and 37 at Pioneer and Hill in the past three years. Initial information of 35 collisions combined at the two intersections during the same time period was incorrect, Fuhr said.
Fuhr, citing studies from traffic safety organizations, said the cameras have proven to reduce side-impact and head-on collisions, although rear-end wrecks can increase.
Councilmember Don Myers, who voted against installing both sets of cameras, said he had concerns about if the current cameras have had any impact on reducing collisions.
“I don’t really see much change that the cameras have brought unless we can bring some specific data in our city that these are really helping,” Myers said. “In my opinion, these are more of a revenue tool. I think it’s missed its intended purpose.”
The city currently has red light cameras, first installed in 2006, at the intersection of Stratford and West Valley Road and West Broadway at Alder Street, and speed enforcement cameras along South Pioneer Way near Moses Lake High School. Fuhr said collision data from when before the cameras were installed ,compared to after, was not available in city records, but indicated the police department responded to just 12 collisions in 2017 at Stratford and Valley, all non-injury.
On average, the city collects about $500,000 in revenue from traffic citations each year, while paying Reflex about $300,000 annually to operate five the cameras. Increasing the total to nine cameras would cost about $540,000 annually while bringing in an estimated $900,000 in revenue.
“The red light cameras, the speed enforcement cameras, are there to enforce laws that already exist,” Leonard said. “It’s not that we’re going out to generate revenues in a way that is creating different situations. If those laws are being followed, then those services would not get utilized. We’re just simply trying to create safer intersections by notifying people in yet another way and reminding them of what the current law is. Revenue is dependent on people’s awareness and following those laws.”
City engineers are expected to present additional data on the Stratford Road intersection at the Jan. 23 council meeting.