Cars blocking intersections and running red lights prompts consideration of new program

SPOKESMAN PHOTO: CLAIRE GREEN - At the corner of Wilsonville Road and Boones Ferry, cars hoping to escape the afternoon traffic and make the light often stack across the intersection. When congestion is at a high, many of these vehicles get stuck in the intersection, blocking traffic in other directions.

Over the years, traffic in Wilsonville has increased to frustrating proportions and intersections along Wilsonville Road show the trend.

At the intersections of Wilsonville Road and Town Center Loop W and Wilsonville Road and Boone Ferry, vehicles can be seen running red lights and blocking the intersections regularly, leading the City Council to consider a red light program at the Feb. 23 work session.

"You've got this issue of cars that are pushing the light or going through after the light and everyone else is still stopped so they're going to force their way through," Mayor Tim Knapp said. "Then you have the left-turn questions that we've addressed previously, especially at Boones Ferry and Wilsonville Road, about blocking the intersection."

Councilor Charlotte Lehan also attested to having seen this phenomenon occur, saying that she has been waiting at a red light at the intersection and that by the time that her light changes, there's still traffic coming through the intersection, blocking her direction of travel despite having the right-of-way.

"I'm sitting there with a green light watching the cars go by," Lehan said.

Although the issues at the two intersections are slightly different, the connecting thread is deviant driver behavior. At previous meetings, the city council has looked into increasing law enforcement, signage and the amount of time it takes from lights to change, but thus far, no satisfactory outcome has appeared.

"Red light cameras might encourage people to modify their behavior by staying on their side of the stop line," Financial Director Susan Cole said. "Red light cameras work on motion, so if a driver were to enter into the intersection when the light was green and they were not able to proceed through the intersection, the camera would not detect that because it's motion sensored, but ... sometimes just the sheer presence of a camera can encourage com-

pliance with traffic laws.

But it's not a guarantee, of course."

If a red light camera program were started, a camera would capture an image of drivers blowing red lights and store the images in a database. An officer would later review these images and issue citations.

In terms of officer time spent, neighboring cities with red light camera programs reported that reviewing the images takes a minute or two per citation compared to the six to seven minutes it takes to pull over a driver and issue a citation on the road. But, unlike with in-person citations, Cole noted that sometimes those ticketed refute the citation

because they weren't driv-

ing their vehicle, causing officers to have to come back and review the citation a second time.

"We can't post law enforcement at those intersections 24/7 so, from a traffic safety standpoint of changing driver behavior, you have to be consistent in enforcement," City Manager Bryan Cosgrove said. "So the cameras do offer some advantages in that respect because you will catch those things when we don't have officers out there."

"If this is something to move forward with, it's important to explain that it's founded in looking at this data over safety and traffic flow rather than making money," Councilor Kristin Akervall said. "And that we'd be continuing to look at (its value)."

The cost structure of creating a red light camera program is initially free for the City. Cameras are installed and paid for by the contracted camera service provider. After that, the company receives a portion of funds generated from citation issued by the camera.

The maximum fine is $260 with an opportunity to reduce the fine to $208 based on a good driving record.

"A portion of it goes off to the county and the State, so then the red light company would take their share and then whatever was remaining would come to our municipal court," Cole said.

The council voted to continue evaluating the merit of the red light camera program before making a decision.

"I would like to move forward with seeing what it would take," Knapp said.

Contact Wilsonville Spokesman reporter Claire Green 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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