Baltimore officials are expanding the city’s speed and red light camera system — nearly doubling the size of the program as it sends out millions of dollars in fines.
Department of Transportation officials said Friday they are adding 44 cameras across Baltimore to the existing fleet of 56, bringing the total number of traffic cameras in the city to 100. The additions will include 19 speed cameras, 19 red light cameras and six cameras designed to catch large trucks traveling on roads where they are not allowed.
“We’re relatively doubling our number of cameras,” said Robert Liberati, director of the city’s speed and red light camera system. “We receive numerous requests for cameras. It’s really about cutting down on reckless and negligent driving.”
City Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke said she is among those who have requested an expansion of the camera system. She said she notices cars speeding by Barclay Elementary/Middle School where hundreds of students cross the street.
“People speed down there like it’s a speedway,” she said. “I’ve got a couple schools that have been desperate for a camera. The more, the merrier as far as I’m concerned. I don’t have a neighborhood in my district that’s not complaining to me about speeding.”
With the expansion, the system is beginning to approach the size of Baltimore’s former speed and red light camera system, which was shut down in 2013 amid accuracy concerns. At its height, the previous system had more than 160 cameras and generated nearly $20 million in revenue annually. During that time, police officers were asked to review and approve as many as five or six speed camera citations per minute.
Since they were reinstated in August, Baltimore’s speed cameras have issued nearly $8 million in fines — from 196,500 tickets costing violators $40 each. The red light cameras have issued about $4 million in fines — from 55,000 citations costing drivers $75 each.
The fines are outpacing the revenue Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh anticipated when she announced her plan to revive the traffic cameras. Her budget included a projection of $8 million in citations from the cameras for the first year.
The Baltimore Sun investigated the city’s speed camera system in 2012 and reported that the cameras were erroneously issuing tickets, leading to the multi-year shutdown.
The General Assembly passed new regulations, and city officials have pledged greater oversight.
New vendor American Traffic Solutions now has a $5.4 million contract with the city to operate the speed cameras. Conduent Inc. is being paid $4.2 million to run the red light camera system.
Baltimore transportation director Michelle Pourciau once worked for American Traffic Solutions, which was awarded the speed camera contract prior to her hiring. She previously managed Washington’s traffic camera system.
City Councilman Kristerfer Burnett, who represents southwest Baltimore, said he wants to make sure the system is supervised properly so more problems don't arise.
He said he frequently gets requests for the cameras from constituents.
“I get a number of emails and requests from community groups who are concerned about speeding,” he said. “We of course need to make sure there’s proper oversight of the program and that it’s issuing accurate tickets every time. It’s definitely been a popular program in my district.”
By law, the new cameras cannot be activated until the public has a two-week warning period. City officials said they plan to activate the new cameras on March 19.
Speed cameras may give out tickets only to motorists who exceed the posted speed limit by at least 12 miles per hour. In Baltimore, they may operate only in school zones, from Monday through Friday between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m.
The new locations for speed cameras are:
- Yorkwood Elementary School: 5800 - 6100 Hillen Road
- North Bend Elementary/Middle School: 100 - 400 North Bend Road
- Dr. Bernard Harris Elementary School: 1300 - 1600 Harford Avenue
- Eutaw-Marshburn Elementary School: 1400 - 1700 Eutaw Place
- Furman L. Templeton Elementary School: 1000 - 1300 Druid Hill Avenue
- Dallas F. Nicholas Sr. Elementary School: 1800 - 2200 North Calvert Street
- The Mount Washington School: 5700 - 5900 Smith Avenue
- Montebello Elementary/Middle School: 2000 - 2400 Erdman Avenue
- Mercy High School/Leith Walk Elementary School: 1100 - 1400 East Northern Parkway
- Alexander Hamilton Elementary School/Empowerment Academy: 2500 - 3000 Edmondson Avenue
- Roland Park Country School, Roland Park Elementary/Middle School & Gilman School: 4800 - 5500 Roland Avenue
- Frederick Douglass High School: 2200 - 2600 North Monroe Street
- Barclay Elementary School: 200 - 400 East 29th Street
- Baltimore City College High School: 1000 - 1300 East 33rd Street
- Baltimore Collegiate School For Boys & Cardinal Shehan School: 900 - 1500 Woodbourne Avenue
- Beechfield Elementary/Middle School: 4400 - 5100 Frederick Avenue
- Dickey Hill Elementary: 2000 - 2200 North Forest Park Avenue
- Patterson High School: 200 - 400 Kane Street
- Institute of Notre Dame & Henderson-Hopkins Elementary School: 800 - 2000 East Eager Street
The new red light camera locations are:
- West Lombard Street and South Charles Street
- Erdman Avenue and Federal Street
- East 33rd Street and Loch Raven Boulevard
- East Cold Spring Lane and York Road
- East Fayette Street and North President Street
- Gwynn Falls Parkway and Reisterstown Road
- Reisterstown Road and West Northern Parkway
- Moravia Road and Sinclair Lane
- Eutaw Street and Saratoga Street
- Reisterstown Road and West Cold Spring Lane
- Park Heights Avenue and West Belvedere Avenue
- Russell Street and Bush Street
- Russell Street and Bayard Street
- Falls Road and West 41st Street
- Frederick Avenue and Beechfield Avenue
- East Madison Street and North Broadway
- East Monument Street and North Broadway
- Dundalk Avenue and O’Donnell Street
- The Alameda and East Cold Spring Lane
The cameras monitoring commercial vehicles give out warnings on a first offense to trucks that drive on roads where they are prohibited, followed by a $125 fine on a second offense and a $250 fine thereafter.
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Those camera locations will be:
- 1400 - 1700 Broening Highway
- 2300 - 2500 Chesapeake Avenue
- 3000 - 3200 Boston Street
- 800 - 1000 Fleet Street
- 3800 - 4000 Pulaski Highway
- 1600 - 1800 E. Fayette Street