Cameras rolling: Pawtucket officials moving ahead on traffic cameras

Cameras rolling: Pawtucket officials moving ahead on traffic cameras

PAWTUCKET – City officials are not putting the brakes on a plan to install new school speed zone and red light cameras, despite controversy in neighboring Providence over the heavy volume of tickets there.

WPRI-TV reported last week that 12,193 tickets were generated from five speed cameras between Jan. 16 and Feb. 22, with nearly all of those on Mount Pleasant Avenue, Charles Street and Thurbers Avenue.

At $95 for each ticket, that means violators were charged $1.15 million total in one month, according to WPRI’s report.

Companies that install and run such camera systems take a cut of the profits from tickets. According to the Providence report, Conduent State and Local Solutions Inc. was in line to earn some $100,000 in fees for the tickets issued over that month. The story led to widespread outrage over the money-making aspect of the program and the high number of tickets.

Proponents of the program say it’s been effective at getting drivers to slow down in school zones.

Pawtucket officials are looking at installing both some school zone cameras as well as red light cameras. They are in talks with Gatso USA, of Beverly, Mass., to start the program. Once a contract is finalized, members of Mayor Donald Grebien’s administration say they will work with Gatso to identify appropriate locations.

Public Safety Director James Vartanian emphasized on Monday that the company Pawtucket is looking to contract with is local. Asked about the situation in Providence, he said there are “many factors that will be taken into consideration while exploring the options, including lessons learned and best practices from other communities, as well.”

The Pawtucket initiative started from the community and council input focusing around school zones and concerns about speeding and safety in those areas, said Vartanian.

“The city is upgrading its school’s infrastructure both in and around the neighborhood schools – this is an extension of that work,” he said.

The physical building and safety improvements around the Potter-Burns School have been successful, and officials are in the process of doing the same at Nathanael Greene School, said Vartanian.

“The city is in the beginning of the process of exploring camera locations and feasibility in Pawtucket, which will include input from the School Department and (School) Committee, City Council, public safety officials, as well as continuous input from the parents and residents around these areas,” he said.

Grebien maintains that his administration doesn’t need an enabling ordinance from the City Council to proceed with the plan, despite protests from council members who don’t like the idea and aren’t pleased that they’re not involved in the decision-making process.

The Rhode Island Automated Traffic Violation Monitoring System Act of 2005 states that “the municipalities of this state are hereby authorized to install and operate automated traffic violation detection systems.”

Vartanian has said the camera initiative wouldn’t cost the city anything, with revenue from tickets projected to cover the cost of the program.

Comments

Once again, Emperor Grebien has decided that he will do as he damn well pleases. Let the constituents and their representatives on the Council eat cake. Cameras he wants, and cameras we shall have.

So now I can plan to never go to both Providence or Pawtucket. That will include baseball games!