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Police place speed cameras at 12 new spots in the District

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Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Mobile speed cameras were posted to a dozen new sites last week, mostly in Southeast Washington, in a move critics say puts the District on track to net $41 million from tickets.

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As of the end of May, just eight months into the fiscal year, the District had garnered $24.8 million from speed camera tickets. Last year, it raked in $33.7 million.

Lon Anderson of AAA Mid-Atlantic criticized the new speed camera locations, calling them a last-ditch effort to meet revenue projections instead of improving safety.

"They're now adding 12 more [sites], so one would think that that would kick up the revenue even more," he said. "It sure looks like they're on target."

But D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier defended the motive behind the new camera spots.

"We are not doing this for revenue but to modify dangerous driving behavior, and we attribute much of the success we've had in reducing traffic fatalities to our photo enforcement initiatives," she said.

In 2009, there were 33 traffic fatalities in the District, down from 40 the previous year.

The police department has 10 fixed radar cameras and the 12 mobile camera units, which are used in dozens of locations.

The new camera locations were set up July 12. In Southeast Washington, the cameras are in the 5200 block of Southern Avenue in the southeast direction; in both directions in the 3500 block of Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue; in the 1400 block of Alabama Avenue; and on Suitland Parkway near Stanton Road. In Southwest Washington, a camera is on Interstate 295 at Exit 1 covering the southbound lane. In Northeast Washington, the cameras are in the 3100 block of North Capitol Street and in the 4100 block of South Dakota Avenue, and there are two cameras in a construction zone in both directions of I-295 at Eastern Avenue.

Anderson questioned the new sites, saying the city showed no documented need for them.

"If the speeding is that bad in those locations, have they had police there handing out tickets, have they had citizen complaints?" he asked. "I think at this point, they need to justify their camera placement."

The camera sites are based on the highest number of crashes and injuries, police calls, and high-speed volume, according to D.C. police.

To help motorists become familiar with the cameras, violators will receive warnings until Aug. 11, when tickets will begin to be issued.

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