County puts brakes on start of cameras

System to photograph red-light runners delayed by contract

November 09, 1999|By Nancy A. Youssef | Nancy A. Youssef,SUN STAFF

Baltimore County officials do not know when they will complete installation of a 26-camera system to ticket red-light runners, after being forced to postpone the Oct. 1 start date because the original vendor was purchased by another company.

Officials are renegotiating the contract with Traffipax Inc. of Danvers, Mass., which bought out the original contractor, Le Marquis of Boca Raton, Fla. The county's office of law is leading negotiations.

"There is going to be a slight delay, but we are working fast and furiously to get it done," said Beth Woodland-Hargrove, a deputy county attorney. "I know they [Traffipax] have been cooperative and amenable."

County police announced the camera installation plan in January, intending to install 10 cameras by early summer and 10 by last month. During the year, the number was increased by six.

Officials have placed 12 cameras countywide, but they will not be operational until the renegotiated contract is approved, said Fred Homan, director of the county's office of budget and finance. Installing the cameras cost about $1.7 million, of which $730,000 was negotiated with Le Marquis.

The delay is because Traffipax wants to change the terms of the agreement, said Homan. "If we have to take a different course, then we ultimately might have to go back to the County Council," he said. If officials reach a deal with Traffipax, Homan said the cameras could be operational in two to six months.

The cameras will be placed at intersections with a high number of accidents or with a number of violations, said county police spokesman Bill Toohey.

The cameras photograph a car approaching an intersection faster than 18 mph three times -- once when behind the white line while the light is red; again of the same car past the white line while the light is red; and a close-up of the license plate.

The car's owner is sent a $75 ticket if the photos clearly show a violation.

Anne Arundel, Howard, Montgomery counties and the cities of Riverdale Park, Laurel, Hyattsville and Baltimore, which have the cameras, have called the program successful.

Sun staff writer David Nitkin contributed to this article.

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