By Ted Schnell
Geneva's red-light cameras are gone from Randall Road. Now, the last of the lot in the Tri-Cities is about to follow a similar fate.
The item on the St. Charles City Council Government Operations Committee was a little more than one line on the aldermen’s agenda:
c. “Recommendation to Discontinue the Redflex Red Light Traffic Program at Rt. 31 at W. Main Street.”
As an item scheduled for the committee’s “Omnibus Vote,” it was not expected to generate much controversy. But it drew media attention after the meeting, as several reporters gathered around Police Chief Jim Lamkin to learn why the recommendation was being made by his department.
The reasons were pretty simple:
There were 15 accidents at the intersection in the year before the device was installed in September 2008. Since the camera went in, the intersection has averaged about eight wrecks a years, or about a 50 percent reduction.
The device was never intended to be a money-maker for the city, Lamkin said, adding that ticket revenues have not generated enough money to cover the city’s costs of leasing it and processing violations.
“The city never made a penny operating it,” Lamkin said.
Lamkin’s executive summary on the issue to the aldermen shows that during its first full year, the camera recorded 353 verified violations, a number that has dropped to 167 so far this year.
After the meeting, Lamkin explained that the use of the device was intended to be revenue-neutral, meaning that the tickets generated by it were expected to cover the cost of using it. But that hasn’t happened. But the device’s mere presence likely has had an impact on reducing collisions there, Lamkin said.
Lamkin said the department had been judicious about how it classified the violations captured on camera — so that citations would be issued only to drivers whose actions on camera would have been readily noticed as violations had an officer actually been present and observing the infractions.
The original five-year contract with Redflex expires later this month.
Geneva had two red-light cameras on Randall Road, at the intersections of Williamsburg Avenue and Fargo Boulevard. They were removed when the contract expired in March.