With promises of better technology and a steady reduction in crashes, the Tacoma City Council awarded a contract to a new company to operate the city's 16 traffic safety cameras, which have been in place since 2007, according to a city memorandum.
SENSYS America, Inc., won the five-year contract after the city put out a request for bids earlier this year. From 2007 to this year, the city's traffic safety cameras were run by Redflex Traffic Systems for photo enforcement of traffic violations.
The city reviewed three proposals. A committee chose SENSYS because of its advanced technology, which includes systems capable of "tracking multiple vehicles across six lanes of travel, capturing exact speed and position at 20 times per second," according to a memorandum from Tacoma Police Chief Don Ramsdell.
"This technology will capture more violations and produce enhanced evidence for violations than other photo enforcement systems. Additionally, this technology is completely non-intrusive and is the least disruptive to the road surface and traffic patterns," the memo states.
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SENSYS will replace existing systems with modernized radar-based enforcement systems, Ramsdell said.
The five-year contract with SENSYS is worth $5.1 million, the city said.
From 2015 to 2017, police statistics show a marked drop in traffic accidents in the areas with safety cameras. There were 95 accidents at the sites of those 16 cameras in 2015, 84 in 2016 and 76 in 2017, according to Ramsdell's memo.
In terms of citations, former vendor Redflex recorded 32,094 in 2015, 50,354 in 2016 and 43,323 in 2017.
There is an option for adding more cameras to the list the city currently operates, but whether that will occur and where those would be located hasn't been formally discussed, city staff said Tuesday.
Tacoma has one speed camera on the East Bay Street curve near Interstate 5 as well as six school zone cameras in three separate school zones: Two each at McCarver Elementary, Stewart Middle School and Downing Elementary School.
The city also has nine intersection red-light cameras: South 38th Street and McKinley Avenue East, South 56th Street and South Oakes Street, South 56th Street and South Tacoma Way, South Tacoma Way and South 74th Street (eastbound and southbound), South Hosmer Street and South 84th Street, Pacific Avenue and South 72nd Street (northbound and southbound), North Pearl Street and North 26th Street.