City expanding DOT’s traffic cam program to 100 cameras

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In two weeks, Baltimore’s restored traffic camera program will have roughly tripled from its initial size last summer.

The Department of Transportation announced Friday that it’s installing cameras—specifically red light, speed and commercial vehicle enforcement ones—in 44 new locations around the city, some of them going in both directions.

That will include 19 new speed cameras, which operate 6 a.m.-8 p.m. in school zones Monday through Friday, issuing $40 tickets to anyone caught moving 12 mph or more over the speed limit; 19 new red light cameras, which run 24/7 and issue $75 tickets; and six new commercial vehicle enforcement cameras, which punish truck drivers traveling on unauthorized roads with escalating fines starting at $125 and maxing out at $250 (the first violation only warrants a warning).

The new devices will be rolled out over three months starting March 19, DOT spokeswoman Kathy Dominick wrote in an email.

Dominick said the 44 new cameras will add to the existing 56 that are already up and running, bringing the total to 100. DOT keeps an interactive map of those devices, which has been updated for this month’s additions.

Asked how much revenue the cameras brought in from tickets in 2017, Dominick said she would defer to the city’s Department of Finance.

Mayor Catherine Pugh announced the return of traffic cameras last spring, and had the program up and running by June. Her initial plans specified there would be 36 cameras in all.

The city shut down its old traffic cam program five years ago, after it became too big to control with upwards of 160 cameras and not enough staff to manage them, officials said. The problem became apparent when the devices began issuing erroneous tickets to drivers who hadn’t actually done anything wrong. The operator, Xerox, was receiving a share of the revenue at the time.

In Pugh’s revived program, the city has paid Arizona-based American Traffic Solutions (DOT Director Michelle Pourciau’s former employer) $5.4 million over five years to operate the speed and commercial-truck enforcement cams. Conduent, Inc., a New Jersey-based former subsidiary of Xerox that separated from the company in early 2017, is getting $4.2 million to run the red light cameras.

Robert Liberati, director of ATVES, said last September, when the city first expanded the program, that the number 36 was a minimum for Pugh’s request for proposals from vendors, and that DOT had since received requests for additional cameras from DOT staff, council members and Baltimore residents.

Dominick reiterated that point Monday morning, writing, “we receive requests for camera enforcement on a continual basis and will add cameras as the need arises. Each request is evaluated and if approved, will be placed on a list of potential locations.”

The agency “closely monitor[s] the system” and ensures requests are sufficiently reviewed by police and DOT staff before any cameras are added, she noted.

Liberati said last fall that the city is aware of public concerns about the program expanding unchecked, particularly due to to the problems with the last iteration.

“We have learned from that,” he said, “and we want to make sure that we don’t make those mistakes again.”

This story has been updated, and corrected to reflect that Conduent is no longer a subsidiary of Xerox.

Ethan McLeod
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Ethan McLeod

Senior Editor at Baltimore Fishbowl
Ethan has been editing and reporting for Baltimore Fishbowl since fall of 2016. His previous stops include Fox 45, CQ Researcher and Connection Newspapers in Northern Virginia. His freelance writing has been featured in Baltimore City Paper, Leafly, DCist and BmoreArt, among other outlets. He enjoys basketball, humid Mid-Atlantic summers and story tips.
Ethan McLeod
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2 COMMENTS

  1. I wish that Baltimore would put as much effort into catching criminals as opposed to looking for new revenue streams.

  2. These programs are nothing more than a government run scam. The basis for instituting these programs was to increase public safety and to reduce the number of traffic accidents. That being the case, I have not seen any statistics to support the case of creating a safer traffic environment. The City needs to disclose this information to prove the program is working or to shut it down if it is not meeting the mission to increase public safety. As a City resident I am very much aware that I pay not only the highest Real Property Taxes I also pay the highest Auto Insurance. My interest in this program is proving that it works and therefore as a City resident one of the anticipated results would be a lower cost for my Auto insurance. To date the Maryland Insurance Commissioners Office does not have this information so I am unable to appeal to lower my Auto Insurance. So until theses actions are taken, then this program is nothing more than a revenue generator for the City. To pile on the criticism this is another reason that is keeping County residents from visiting the City. How much loss revenue are these programs responsible for? Has any agency done a study to determine the negative economic affects of these programs? If so, I believe we are entitled to a full disclosure and access to theses studies.

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