A red-light runner’s haven

The intersection of Millbrae Avenue and Rollins Road saw a staggering 1,023 red-light violations during four peak-hour traffic times this February, according to data to be presented tonight to the City Council.

So it’s no surprise that Arizona-based American Traffic Solutions, a company that has also conducted traffic studies for Hillsborough and Daly City, is recommending the city install four red-light cameras at that intersection.

“That is the highest [number] I’ve ever seen,” ATS vice president Bill Kroske said.

ATS is also recommending a camera on Millbrae Avenue at the southbound Highway 101 offramp, which saw a comparatively smaller, but still-high, 37 violations in the same trial period, Kroske said.

Once cameras are installed, both Kroske and police Detective John Aronis said they expect violations will drop significantly.

The Police Department will have to spend $100,000 annually for an additional officer to run the program and another $254,400 for the camera equipment and maintenance. But if the city catches only 10 violations per day, the annual revenue to the city could be more than $1.5 million.

Some Bay Area residents ticketed in San Mateo have challenged the legality of cameras, filing a class-action lawsuit with the help of San Francisco attorney Sherry Gendelman, claiming the process violates the constitutional right of defendants to face their accuser. San Mateo County Superior Court Commissioner Stephanie Garratt ruled against Gendelman and her clients earlier this year.

Aronis estimates the cameras will be up and running within the next two months if they are approved by the council tonight. The city would be required to hold a 30-day education period during which it would alert people to the cameras’ presence.

San Mateo police Lt. Tom Daughtry said the number of traffic citations at Hillsdale Boulevard and Saratoga Drive has stayed roughly the same since a camera was installed in 2005, but that there has been a reduction in the number of accidents.

Burlingame and Redwood City are also considering installing red-light cameras, with both city councils planning to take up the issue by year’s end.

tramroop@examiner.com

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