by Vickie Vértiz
While the traffic camera program ended in September of 2014, the white boxes and attached poles are still where they were first installed. For the past eight years, cameras caught Riverside drivers taking red lights, but sometimes captured cars screeching to a stop once they saw the light flash.
Since the program stopped, the cameras inside the white boxes have been removed. Public Works Director Tom Boyd told The Press-Enterprise that the rest of the equipment will soon also be taken down.
At the near end of 2006, the cameras were installed because they were thought to reduce the number of red-light running and accidents. While City of Riverside officials told the paper that accidents had actually decreased at intersections that had cameras and across the city, the public scorn against the camera program continued. The paper said that, “Drivers complained about the high cost of tickets and the perceived unfairness of being cited for rolling right turns.”
The camera program operated at a loss almost yearly. It also led to more than 200,000 citations being issued to residents by officials. After the election in 2013, the new city council members voted to remove the cameras, said The Enterprise.
Although they were turned off last year, members of the council recently inquired about the status of camera removal, the paper added. Boyd told the Enterprise that he “sent an employee to check and the man found an empty housing.”
Redflex Traffic Systems officials, the company under contract to operate the cameras, told Boyd they were slated to remove the expensive cameras and any related materials when the program ended.
Spokeswoman for Redflex Jody Ryan wrote to the paper in an email that the “cameras stopped collecting data in September, and the remaining equipment will be removed this month.”
The Enterprise reported that Riverside city council members said they have received very few, “if any, questions” about why the camera poles have still not been removed.
The paper reported that some people think the presence of the equipment, is still regulating the behavior of drivers who may not know the boxes are empty.
“When I know there [is] a camera there, I [am] extra cautious,” said Chris Goulet to the paper, a resident of Woodcrest. He also told the paper he thinks other drivers may act the same way he does.
The paper added Boyd stating that Redflex hired a contractor that will remove the camera boxes and the poles, but also will fix the sidewalk cement where the poles were installed.
In the email to the paper, Ryan explained that the long time between program closure and removal was caused by Redflex needing to find an “experienced contractor and to do paperwork.”
According to The Enterprise, Boyd noted that multiple cities had canceled the Redflex contracts too, and that Riverside was not the first of these requests for equipment to be removed. Perhaps if a city is far enough down that list, they might decide to take out the cameras, but leave in equipment as ways to still keep people from breaking the law.