Pinecrest council members voted Tuesday to move ahead with red-light cameras at four intersections on U.S. 1.
The village has decided to use the cameras in the northbound lanes of Southwest 88th, 112th and 128th streets and Daytran Drive. The intersection at Southwest 136th Street was not included because it is shared with Palmetto Bay and would be difficult to determine the jurisdiction of the violation, according to Village Manager Yocelyn Galiano Gomez.
Once the cameras are ready, a village contractor will issue $158 fines by mail to the owners vehicles caught running a red light. Drivers who want a hearing to contest the fine must pay an extra $150 administrative fee. Or, if the vehicle owner claims he wasn’t driving, he can respond by telling the contractor who was behind the wheel.
The fines will pay for the hearing magistrate and a part-time police officer to review the video.
The program will move forward only if the Village Council gives final approval at a second meeting, at 7 p.m. on Sept. 11 at the village’s Municipal Center, 12645 Pinecrest Pkwy. Tuesday’s vote was 4-1, with Councilman Bob Ross dissenting.
“It would be a heck of a lot of tickets and aggravation for Pinecrest residents,” Ross said.
But Councilman Charles McDonald said the program will make U.S. 1 safer.
“The intention is to educate and change behavior,” said McDonald, adding that the village could make some money from the program.
Vice Mayor Jeff Cutler was initially skeptical of the program asking, “There’s no way we could lose money in this program, right?”
But he voted for it after Galiano Gomez assured him the program would “pay for itself.”
Galiano Gomez added that there will be conditions in place to ensure no loss of revenue.
“We’ve put a formula in place, so within a 12-month period if the cameras are not paying for itself, we won’t be charged,” said Galiano Gomez.
If passed, the council will begin negotiations with American Traffic Solutions, the company that operates the cameras for more than 20 municipalities in Miami-Dade County, for a two-year agreement with an optional two-year renewal – providing that it meets the cost-neutral condition. If not, council members will put out a bid.
Village resident Karen Ross told the council she was concerned that the cameras will be used for purposes other than traffic safety.
“There are very few impacts that this would prevent,” said Ross. “I don’t believe it’s necessary because it won’t be used for safety.”
But Police Chief Samuel Ceballos said the cameras are only triggered when a red light violation occurs. He said the cameras could be used for non-traffic criminal investigations, but only if the they happen to catch something useful while photographing a red-light violation.