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July 22, 2013 at 4:11 PM

Seattle council says spend traffic-ticket money only on safety projects

Interactive Map: Check out locations of every school-zone and red-light traffic camera in Seattle and how many violators each has caught.

Interactive Map: Check out locations of every school-zone and red-light traffic camera in Seattle and how many violators each has caught.

The Seattle City Council voted unanimously Monday to spend money raised by school-zone traffic-camera tickets exclusively on road- and pedestrian-safety projects near schools.

Mayor Mike McGinn has also repeatedly said he wants to invest all those funds–which amounted to $3.3 million after the pilot program’s first six months–into road safety projects near schools. But he wanted that money to stay in the general fund so there would be more flexibility and accessibility when the city wanted to spend it, according to his spokesman, Robert Cruickshank.

As our story in today’s paper says, the separate fund the council established today would require every penny to be spent on operating and maintaining the cameras; safety education; and capital-improvement projects, such as repainted crosswalks, new sidewalks, lights and more camera installations.

Councilmember Nick Licata has said he wanted a separate fund to increase financial transparency for those skeptical of traffic cameras and to ensure the money is spent the way the city promised. He hopes the same can eventually be done with revenue generated by the city’s 31 red-light cameras.

Because of past difficulties in funding pedestrian-walkway improvements, Councilmember Richard Conlin said at today’s meeting that he sees the new fund as “an opportunity, not a restriction.”

Councilmember Tim Burgess said the fund could be used for Seattle Neighborhood Greenways projects as well as Safe Routes to Schools projects.

In school zones, when vehicles drive faster than 20 mph while yellow beacons are flashing, the cameras take a picture of the vehicle’s license plate. A traffic officer from the Seattle Police Department reviews the $189 citation before it’s mailed out to the owner of that vehicle.

McGinn wants some ticket revenue spent on installing nine new cameras next year at Bailey Gatzert Elementary on East Yesler Way, Dearborn Park Elementary on South Orcas Street, and Roxhill Elementary and Holy Family Parish School, both on Southwest Roxbury Street.

Eight existing school-zone cameras started catching speeders in December at school zones near Broadview-Thomson K-8 School on Greenwood Avenue North, near Thurgood Marshall Elementary on Martin Luther King Jr. Way South, Gatewood Elementary on Fauntleroy Way Southwest and Olympic View Elementary on Fifth Avenue Northeast.

To see how many times school-zone and red-light cameras have triggered citations at a specific location, check out our interactive map.

Preliminary data from the Seattle Police Department shows the average speed of people who were mailed citations was 30 mph. The data showed that 96 percent of those cited have not re-offended since the program started in December.

0 Comments | More in Traffic & Transit | Topics: Mayor Mike McGinn, Nick Licata, Seattle City Council

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