DPS may expand freeway camera proposal - East Valley Tribune: News

DPS may expand freeway camera proposal

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Posted: Saturday, February 9, 2008 9:46 pm | Updated: 10:55 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

The Department of Public Safety is telling potential bidders to be prepared to put up to 170 speed and red-light cameras systems along Arizona highways and at intersections.

That means the number of camera systems that the state police agency envisions under a possible contract could add up to significantly more than 100 anticipated under Gov. Janet Napolitano’s recent proposed budget, which projected receiving $90 million in additional net state revenue from speed cameras in the next fiscal year.

The potential number of camera systems and other key elements of the DPS’ proposed statewide deployment of speed enforcement cameras are outlined in a formal request for proposals for a contract to provide and operate the systems.

The request states that cameras would be placed both at fixed sites, including some highway intersections, and in vehicles parked at spots that could change daily.

DPS now has a handful of contracted mobile units on an experimental basis.

The Associated Press obtained the request for proposals under a public records request.

Each camera system could include more than one camera so there’d be pictures of vehicles’ fronts and backs — to capture images of drivers’ faces and license plates, respectively, — and also to cover more than one lane of traffic.

The automated and computerized systems use radar or another type of sensor to calculate a vehicle’s speed and, if it’s determined to be a violator, trigger a camera to take digital pictures or video. License plate numbers then are checked against motor vehicle registrations, and citations are mailed to vehicle owners.

Citing reduced accident and speeding rates from a Scottsdale system used on the Loop 101 freeway, Napolitano had directed DPS to start planning a statewide system a year ago.

DPS issued its request for proposals on Jan. 11, one week before Napolitano released her proposed 2008-2009 budget.

While recently reiterating that public safety was the motivation, Napolitano said it also made sense to use the anticipated revenue to help balance the state budget in the next fiscal year when the state faces a projected revenue shortfall of over $1 billion.

Whether the expansion will even take place — and provide the state with the anticipated revenue bump — remains to be seen in the face of opposition by some legislators. Napolitano’s proposal requires legislative approval to change state law so that all the new revenue goes to the state, not local governments.

When the budget was released, administration officials said they presumed the state would deploy 100 cameras statewide.

Napolitano’s chief budget adviser, Deputy Chief of Staff George Cunningham, did not immediately return a call Friday on possible budget impacts of a possible deployment of more than 100 cameras.

However, having more than 100 cameras could make it easier to hit the estimate of $90 million of new revenue in the next fiscal year. Or it could mean even more revenue for the state.

Though DPS Director Roger Vanderpool told legislators last month he wasn’t sure if DPS could manage more than 100 camera systems, the figures in the agency’s request for proposals add up to many more.

DPS told potential contractors to plan for up to 120 fixed camera systems. Of those, up to 30 would be versions for use at intersections to capture images of both speeders and red-light runners.

The request also specifies that DPS wants up to 50 mobile units in vans or SUVs. Those would include up to 10 speed-red light versions.

The proposed contract would be for two years but could be extended to five, with the contractor paid a specified amount for each paid citation. That dollar amount is to be part of proposals to be submitted to DPS by Feb. 25.

The contractor would provide equipment, hardware and software to operate the camera systems as well as generate and process citations, provide court testimony and collect and report data to the state.

The DPS would pick the locations for the cameras and put DPS markings on the contractors’ vehicles.

Administration officials said last month that they assumed the statewide expansion would begin July 1, the start of the next state fiscal year, but that there could be a ramp-up period lasting several months.

Consequently, a full year of operation likely would produce the state with $120 million of additional revenue after expenses, they said.

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