More red light cameras coming to Providence this year

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The Elorza administration has asked the City Council to approve the addition of 20 red light cameras in various Providence neighborhoods, with 10 of them set to be in place by the end of the year.

Under a proposal approved by the City Council Finance Committee Wednesday night, the maximum number of traffic cameras in the city would grow from 25 to 45. But city officials maintain their only immediate plan is to add 10 cameras.

The plan must still be approved by the full City Council, but the additional revenue the city projects to generate was included in the budget that took effect July 1.

“What we want to see is, we modify their behavior,” Leo Perrotta, the city’s parking administrator, told Eyewitness News. “They no longer go through the red light. Revenues start to go down. And we have the ability to move to other locations to direct people once again to modify their behavior.”

The city is projecting it will generate $3.65 million in revenue from its traffic camera program in the current fiscal year. After factoring in payments to Conduent State & Local Solutions, the city projects its profit from the program will be $2.2 million. In the previous two fiscal years, the city brought in $1.8 million and $1.3 million, respectively.

The city also sought General Assembly approval to have 28 days to issue red light tickets, up from the current two-week policy. But the legislation was not approved by the House of Representatives.

A contract approved separately by the Finance Committee Wednesday guarantees Conduent, a Xerox subsidiary, a fixed fee of $2,978 per month for each camera in the city and $7.50 for each potential violation the company processes. The company is also planning to provide the city with speed cameras near school zones, although Perrotta said officials are still working on a plan for that program.

Perrotta said the city is planning to choose 10 new camera locations from a list of 20 locations by the fall, but the R.I. Department of Transportation will have the final say. He said there is no timeline for when the city plans add the other 10 cameras the council is expected to approve.

City officials have long maintained the traffic camera program’s main focus is public safety, but critics have argued it’s another way to generate revenue for Providence. Other groups, like the Rhode Island chapter of the American Civil liberties Union (ACLU), have raised concern about the privacy of drivers.

“The ACLU is deeply concerned about the proposed expanded use of red light cameras in Providence,” Steven Brown, the eruptive director of organization, told Eyewitness News. “We’ve been following this issue for more than 10 years, and the use of this technology continues to raise significant concerns for the due process and privacy rights of motorists.”

Brown maintains traffic camera programs have not been shown to reduce crashes, but Perrotta said the city’s police department believe it has resulted in fewer accidents.

“The bottom line is we don’t want people to run red lights,” he said.

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Dan McGowan ( dmcgowan@wpri.com ) covers politics, education and the city of Providence for WPRI.com. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter: @danmcgowan

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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