School zone cameras

Five years ago the city of Longview launched its speed zone photo enforcement program to slow drivers down around school zones. Now the City Council must decide whether they want to continue or abandon the controversial program.

The cameras have collected $2.3 million in speeding tickets for the public safety fund, which was created for the sole purpose of traffic safety improvements. Council members will discuss their options at a special meeting Thursday.

Last year alone the camera program issued 27,000 tickets, more than half of which came from the cameras at Mark Morris High School. So far this year the cameras have triggered more than 4,000 fines.

The five-year contract for the program is set to expire by the end of December if not renewed.

“Enforcing the speed has rubbed some people the wrong way,” City Manager Dave Campbell said. “It’s all about community safety.”

Council members also need to decide what traffic safety projects the city will pursue with the $2.3 million pool. The City Council last month voted against using the fund for capital projects such as the police station remodel.

Potential uses for the fund include creating a “traffic enforcement unit” that would approve photo enforcement violations and respond to traffic collisions. More than 600 accidents occurred in Longview last year.

Or the city could simply pursue traffic improvements, such as installing new ADA ramps, roundabouts or school zone upgrades, to name a few.

“Even if the photo enforcement is discontinued and there’s not much new revenue coming into the fund past this year, there are still some pretty big projects that the city could pursue,” Campbell said.

Fines from the photo enforcement cameras totaled $4.5 million in the past five years. More than half the money went to the program’s expenses.

The council meeting will be held at 6 p.m. on Thursday at Longview City Hall.

Contact Daily News reporter Hayat Norimine at 360-577-7828

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