The Gazette covers City Hall, now a flood-damaged icon on May's Island in the Cedar River

Red-light and speed-enforcement cameras a step closer as city seek proposals for “bullet-resistant” cameras that provide “indisputable” proof

In City Hall, Police Department on April 29, 2009 at 8:01 am

City Hall and the Police Department weren’t kidding.

The two have now moved ahead and are seeking proposals, due May 18, from contractors who will install and maintain red-light enforcement cameras at up to 10 intersections as well as a mobile speed-enforcement camera and a fixed speed-enforcement camera.

For the contractor who wins the city’s business, cameras are expected to be in place at four intersections within 90 days after the award of a contract and in place at six others within six months. The mobile speed-enforcement camera should be ready by Sept. 1 and the fixed speed-enforcement camera by Oct. 1.

For violators, warning tickets with snapshots of a violation will arrive in the mail for the first month the system is in operation.

The city is seeking an automated, digital traffic-camera enforcement program that is a “total turn-key operation with no program expenditures to be incurred by the city.”

Just how much an actual ticket will cost a violator to cover the contractor’s needs and the city’s needs will be part of each contractor’s proposal to the city.

The contractor pays for cameras, computer hardware, computer software, poles, wiring, installation, maintenance, training, reporting, community education and awareness on issues related to red-light violations.

Some intersections may have cameras at more than one approach to the intersection, and the city also wants a system that can expand to more intersections.

In its request for proposal, the city says it would prefer a camera system that provides both still photos and video of sufficient resolution to ensure “indisputable” proof of violations.

The cameras will capture an image of a vehicle’s rear license plate as well as a view of the specific intersection in which the violation is alleged to have occurred. The cameras must have a capability of flashing to take pictures at night and the cameras must be tamper-resistant and “bullet-resistant.”

The city’s request for proposals notes, too, that the red-light and speeding infractions will be city offenses and so will not be reported to insurance companies or the state motor vehicle office. Cedar Rapids police officers will review all photos and determine if an offense has occurred. Appeals of infractions will be made to the court system.

The contract is for three years.

The city’s proposal requires the contractor to remove the system at no cost to the city if the state of Iowa or the courts in the future decide that the cameras no longer are permitted. (To date, state courts have allowed the cameras). At each one-year point in the contract, the city also can ask that the system be removed if the city determines it is not effective.

The city is asking each of the companies submitting proposals to provide a fee structure, which details how much revenue goes to the company and how much to the city.

The city will pick a contractor based on 10 criteria, including qualifications and experience, references, total scope of services being offered and fee structure.

In the city budget for the fiscal year beginning July, the city anticipates it can raise $750,000 for the city from the enforcement cameras.

Tickets go to the owners of vehicles, whether they were driving or not. The city has said the owner has the responsibility to get the ticket to the driver or pay the ticket.

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  1. “The city has said the owner has the responsibility to get the ticket to the driver or pay the ticket.”

    Good luck. There have been multiple court decisions saying that the state has a burden of proof, and cannot simply force an owner to pay for these tickets without proof of who was operating the vehicle.

  2. ‘Just how much an actual ticket will cost a violator to cover the contractor’s needs and the city’s needs will be part of each contractor’s proposal to the city.”

    I’ve heard from an inside source that these systems are pretty reliable as far as that grey area of whether or not a driver was in a yellow or red goes, so it doesn’t sound like such a Big Brother system, although it is a joke to call this a concern for safety over a new source of revenue. I am curious if these tickets will cost more than if an office pulls you over. I am not thrilled about the wording in the contracts where the city absorbs no cost, as I take that to mean the violators will take on additional costs of the added contractor fees simply because the city wants a no-cost alternative source of revenue from its residents.

  3. Does the City’s RFP include a contractor’s statement as to the length of the yellow lights at these intersections, and whether or not the City or contractor are allowed to change them?

    Plenty of studies are available to show that increasing the length of yellow lights at “dangerous” intersections not only reduces broad-side accidents and pedestrian accidents, but also cures the “slam on the brakes to cause rear-end accidents” that most red light camera systems propagate.

  4. “The city has said the owner has the responsibility to get the ticket to the driver or pay the ticket.”

    Assuming the courts insist that proof be introduced as to the identity of the driver, the owner of the car will likely need to fight the City if the owner and the driver are different. I think the camera should also take a snap shot of the driver as well to avoid unnecessary disputes.

  5. I’ve heard that engineers at Rockwell are waiting to see what type of cameras are installed so they can design a system to defeat them.
    Remember these same engineers designed descamblers back in the 70’s so they could listen to police radio calls

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