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Kent's first school traffic cameras to light up Nov. 18
The cameras are coming! The cameras are coming!
The city of Kent will start operating its first school traffic cameras to catch speeders on Nov. 18. Officials had hoped to start up the cameras when Kent schools opened Aug. 29 but equipment installation delayed the project.
Council members unanimously approved plans in May to install cameras on streets in front of Sunrise Elementary, 22300 132nd Ave. S.E., on the East Hill, and at Neely-O'Brien Elementary, 6300 S. 236th St., in the Valley.
"We anticipate to activate them on Nov. 18 and begin the warning period until Christmas break," said Acting City Attorney Pat Fitzpatrick. "Then we will go live on the first day back in school on Jan. 6."
Drivers will receive warning tickets with no payment required from Nov. 18 to Dec. 20. Starting Jan. 6, tickets will cost $124 for drivers going 1 to 9 mph over the 20 mph speed limit and $248 for drivers 10 mph or more over the limit starting in January.
Cameras will only operate when the school zone lights are flashing, which are the morning drop off and afternoon pick up times for the schools, Fitzpatrick said.
"It's not intended to generate revenue," Fitzpatrick said. "The goal is to slow people down."
The program initially is projected to bring in an estimated $421,000 in the first year to the city, according to city documents, although that figure is expected to be adjusted with the installation delay.
The cities of Auburn, Federal Way, Des Moines, Renton and Seattle are among the cities that operate school-zone cameras to catch speeders.
Arizona-based American Traffic Solutions (ATS), Inc., contracted with the city to provide the camera services that include the equipment as well as mailing out tickets. ATS contracts with Des Moines, Seattle, Federal Way, Issaquah and more than 300 other communities in 21 states to provide traffic camera services.
A major reason for the delay turned out to be finding a power source for the cameras by Sunrise Elementary. There also was a mechanical glitch with the traffic lights and cameras at Neely-O'Brien Elementary.
The program is projected to bring in an estimated $421,000 (after costs) in the first year to the city, according to city documents, although that figure is expected to be adjusted with the installation delay.
The program will cost the city about $150,000 per year, including $97,000 to ATS for the four cameras; $20,000 for pay to police officers to review the video; $26,000 for Municipal Court staff; and $7,000 for city legal staff.
Funds left over after costs will go to public safety and traffic enforcement related issues, Fitzpatrick said.
Cameras will take a video and still images of a speeding vehicle from behind. Speed is measured by sensors in the road. After review by a police officer, ATS staff will send a ticket to the vehicle's registered owner. The cameras only take images of the vehicle and license plate, not the driver or passengers.
Police officers who review video will receive overtime pay so that officers are not taken off the street and current service levels are maintained.
Sunrise and Neely-O-Brien were chosen for the cameras because speeding traffic studies showed the most violations at the two schools, according to city officials. The program might be expanded to more schools in the future years.
School traffic cameras
• Warnings issued Nov. 18 to Dec. 20
• Citations issued starting Jan. 6
• 20 mph school zone speed limit
• Operate when school zone lights flashing
• Sunrise and Neely-O'Brien elementary school zones only