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The warning period is expiring soon on the new photo enforcement cameras that were installed at three school zones this fall.

Longview Police gave drivers a 30-day grace period to become accustomed to the cameras before police mailed any tickets. It took longer than expected to install the equipment, and the warning period began once the cameras were activated.

Drivers who exceed the speed limit through these school zones will begin receiving tickets by mail starting on Oct. 9 for St. Helens and Olympic elementary schools and Oct. 21 for Kessler Elementary.

“Please drive below the speed limit and pay attention when passing through all school zones. The safety of our children is important,” Longview Police Chief Jim Duscha said in a prepared statement.

Between Sept. 9 and Friday, Longview police verified 355 speeding violations in the St. Helens zone, according to LPD statistician Mary Chennault. During that same period, there were 105 verified speeding violations in the Olympic zone. Cameras in the Kessler zone were not activated until Sept. 20; between then and Friday, there were 28 violations, Chennault said. All these drivers received warnings.

The data is preliminary. There are still photos of 159 unverified violations from Sept. 9-26 that are being processed by American Traffic Solutions and then will be reviewed by officers to determine if a violation actually occurred, she said.

Photo enforcement cameras were installed at Mint Valley Elementary School and Columbia Valley Gardens Elementary School in 2011. Between Sept. 9-26, police mailed 84 tickets to violators in the CVG zone and 63 tickets in the Mint Valley zone.

The school zone cameras operate during school hours in all five school zones. The cameras do not operate after school hours or on weekends, holidays, winter or summer vacation.

Fines range from $124 to $250 on school speed zone photo enforcement tickets, based on the speed over the posted limit.

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 the vendor, 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.

In the two years since cameras were installed at CVG and Mint Valley, speed violations in both schools have decreased by about 37 percent, from an average of 297 speed violations per month in both school zones in 2011 to an average of 186 per month in 2013.

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