Tempe ending photo radar program

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TEMPE, Ariz. - On July 19 at midnight photo radar cameras along busy Tempe roads and intersections will be shut off and many residents are looking forward to it.

"I'm glad they're leaving, I'm glad they're going away," said Tahlia Brooks.

"I think it does slow people down, and make people more conscientious before going into an intersection, but on the other hand I don't like getting tickets," said Tempe resident Pete Calderon.

On Thursday Tempe City Councilmembers voted 4 to 3 not to extend a contract with photo enforcement company Redflex, effectively ending the program when the contract expires on July 18.

The decision by Tempe officials comes a year after the Department of Public Safety put the brakes on photo radar on freeways across the state.

City Manager Charlie Meyer said the decision likely had less to do with the effectiveness of the program and more to do with an ongoing lawsuit between Redflex and the city.

"Certainly the lawsuit that Redflex brought against the city has to be a factor in the city council's consideration," said Meyer. "Redflex is claiming more fees than they are entitled to under the contract."

Redflex spokesman Tom Herman said he could comment on the vote specifically but said the company did hope to continue working with Tempe in the future.

Meyer says that since cameras were installed in Tempe in 2007 officials have recorded a dip in traffic accidents, but he said he could not directly link that drop to the photo radar.

"I've said a number of times I can't directly attribute that reduction in accidents to the photo enforcement program, it could be any number of things," Meyer said.

The council is likely to reconsider the use of photo radar at their next meeting in August and could at that time vote to issue a request for proposals for a new photo enforcement contract.

If that happens it's estimated the process would take at least six months before cameras are back up and running.

Tempe says that while the program has collected $1.8 million dollars in fees, after paying Redflex,the state and the county, the city has just barely broken even.