It’s official — at least three more Longview school zones will have speed cameras this fall.
Thursday, the Longview City Council approved a contract amendment with camera vendor American Traffic Solutions to install speed cameras at Kessler, St. Helens and Olympic elementary schools.
Mark Morris High School and Northlake Elementary were originally on the list. However, given the school merger discussion that could lead to both schools’ closures, the camera vendor will perform the advance sitework and then wait until the Longview School District makes a decision, which is tentatively expected in August. Even if the merger were approved but the schools wouldn’t be shuttered for, say, another year, the vendor wouldn’t install the cameras because the process is expensive.
All cameras will be installed in September. “Photo enforced” signs will be posted in the school zones in both directions. Speeding tickets start at $124 and go up from there.
The city’s camera rental cost is $4,750 a month per school zone, and the camera contract will be extended from the end of 2014 to Dec. 31, 2016. The contract allows American Traffic Solutions to charge an additional $5 fee per violation in school zones with more than 800 violations per month, which will help the vendor cover its costs of processing tickets.
Longview police recommended the schools based on the results of traffic studies and the number of students who live within walking distance. In February, police tracked speeders in several Longview school zones on a school day. They recommended adding cameras to zones where more than 350 speeding violations were recorded. Although more than 1,200 vehicles exceeded the 20 mph speed limit along Broadway Elementary, the City Council decided not to put cameras there because only 15 students live within walking distance and many aren’t capable of making the trek.
Roughly 1,060 vehicles sped through Northlake Elementary’s school zone on Olympia Way the day of the traffic study, placing it second highest for speeding after Broadway Elementary.
Columbia Valley Gardens and Mint Valley elementary schools have had speed cameras since March 1, 2011, and statistics show drivers slow down when cameras are present. At CVG, the cameras ticketed 1,250 speeders in 2011 and 852 speeders in 2012, a reduction of 32 percent. At Mint Valley, 1,231 speeding tickets were issued in 2011 compared to 953 in 2012, a reduction of 23 percent.