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Cameras could be added to Wilsonville/Boones Ferry intersection

SPOKESMAN PHOTO: JAKE BARTMAN - The City of Wilsonville installed Do not block intersection signs at the Wilsonville Road/Boones Ferry Road intersection several weeks ago in an effort to reduce congestion there. Red light cameras could be added to the intersection as well, but might not address the issue of drivers blocking the intersection after a signal change.The Wilsonville City Council took a look last month at a new way to address congestion problems at the Wilsonville Road/Boones Ferry Road intersection when it considered whether a red light camera system — which would automatically take pictures to ticket drivers who run red lights — could solve some of the intersection’s troubles.

Red light cameras are activated when the system detects a vehicle approaching an intersection at speed after the signal has turned red. The cameras then capture a series of images to document a vehicle before and after it crosses the violation line into the intersection, in addition to a video clip of the violation.

That methodology means that red light cameras are limited with respect to the type of violations they can capture, however, so they might not address a particular concern of the City’s: drivers who remain inside the intersection after the signal changes, blocking cross-traffic.

“Red light photo radars don’t necessarily work when a car enters an intersection on a green light, and then it turns red,” said Finance Director Susan Cole, who gave a presentation on the cameras to the council. “Photo radar would not necessarily solve that issue.”

She noted that the cameras would nonetheless reduce the frequency of red-light violations, and that nearby cities like Tualatin, Beaverton and Sherwood had seen a reduction in the number of vehicles running red lights since installing cameras — although those cities installed the cameras largely to address concerns about the safety of certain intersections.

It can take time to realize the goal of changing driver behavior at an intersection. According to a staff-prepared memo, it took five years for an intersection in Newberg outfitted with a red light camera system to see a decrease in the number of citations issued.

Wilsonville’s reason for installing the cameras would be less about safety than about improving the intersection’s efficiency. “We might choose to install them to keep intersections clear, or to have the perception that traffic enforcement is there,” Cole said.

Councilor Charlotte Lehan said that while the City has been concerned especially with drivers blocking the intersection after a signal change, drivers running red lights are a part of the intersection’s troubles as well, since people become more likely to run lights after they’ve spent many light changes waiting for their turn to cross the intersection.

City Manager Bryan Cosgrove agreed. “It’s not the original issue that we were asked to look into, but that’s not to suggest that people aren’t running red lights, because we know that happens,” Cosgrove said.

The red light camera system itself wouldn’t cost the City, since a company would install and maintain the system at no cost, in exchange for a portion of the money garnered from tickets; each ticket is treated as a Class B violation and can cost a driver up to $260. Extra staff time would be required to make the red light photo camera system work, however, since the cameras would require the time of a Wilsonville Police Department officer who would review alleged violations.

That might require an adjustment to the rate of the City’s contract with the Clackamas County Sheriff’s

Office, which operates the Wilsonville Police Department, Cosgrove said.

Lehan said that she hesitated to approve camera installation without information on the number of citations presently being issued at the intersection. Councilor Julie Fitzgerald agreed.

“I’m interested in investing some money to address this, if we need to,” Fitzgerald said. “I don’t know what the other options are. I guess I’d like to know a little more.”

Cosgrove said that staff would find additional information on enforcement and present it to the council at a later date. At that point, the council could consider a pilot program of several months or a year or other options.

Contact Jake Bartman at 503-636-1281 ext. 113 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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