NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—On June 19, the NJ Department of Transportation announced it was suspending the pilot program responsible for installing cameras at 15 intersections in Middlesex County to catch motorists running red lights.
But don’t let that make you think you can beat New Brunswick’s camera.
The problem is that the vast majority of intersections were never checked to ensure the yellow lights were lengthy enough to comply with the state statute.
New Brunswick’s only camera, at the intersection of Easton Avenue and Park Boulevard, near the St. Peter’s University Hospital campus, will be unaffected by the program’s suspension.
But all six red light cameras in Piscataway have been suspended, as well as three in Edison and one in Woodbridge. Another three in Woodbridge will remain operational, as will East Brunswick’s sole camera at the intersection of Route 18 and Tices Lane.
See the full list on the Star-Ledger’s website, NJ.com.
The company responsible for New Brunswick’s cameras, Redflex, is the same one at the center of a controversy in Edison that started the whole mess.
According to the Star-Ledger’s report, “How One Ticket Put the Brakes on Red Light Cameras in NJ,” a Tewksbury woman challenged a ticket issued by Edison Township after discovering through a public records request that they had never inspected the intersections to ensure the systems were properly working.
Redflex back-dated the monthly inspection documents after her inquiry and submitted them all to the state in March. But she still beat the ticket in April, and her victory eventually led the state to suspend the program at nearly 3 out of 4 intersections statewide.
Charles Renda, a lifelong New Brunswick resident, asked at the June 20 City Council meeting for information on the camera’s effectiveness at reducing accidents, as well as the revenue it has generated since it went into service two years ago.
“As far as the accidents, I can instruct the Traffic Division to do a study, I don’t have the numbers and I don’t think a study has been done,” said JT Miller, who attends the City Council meetings in place of Director Anthony Caputo.
Business Administrator Tom Laughlin promised to have the revenue numbers at the Council’s next meeting, which is scheduled for July 5 at 5:30pm.
The proposed 2012 city budget shows that although only $200,000 was anticipated from the city’s red light camera program last year, it brought in a whopping $515,102.25. In the 2012 budget, the city is anticipating $500,000 in revenue from the system.
Renda added that he wanted more information on the accident statistics, saying that accident reduction was the justification for adding the cameras in the first place.
“If there hasn’t been any significant affect on accident rates, we should reconsider if we need a revenue enhancer in front of the hospital there,” he said.
Indeed, the city’s website lists the red light cameras on a page that promotes the administration’s efforts to improve pedestrian safety in New Brunswick.
Charlie is the founder and editor of New Brunswick Today, and the winner of the Awbrey Award for Community-Oriented Local Journalism. He is a proud Rutgers University journalism graduate, a community organizer, and a former independent candidate for mayor of New Brunswick.