Providence councilors want education campaign for future speed cams

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – A group of Providence City Council members is asking the Elorza administration to hold off on deploying more school-zone speed cameras until the city runs an education campaign to better inform the public about the new program.

But the proposal put forward by Councilwoman Sabina Matos and six of her colleagues wouldn’t halt the city’s use of five existing speed cameras or six more that will become operational on Monday.

Matos said she will introduce a non-binding resolution at the council’s March 15 meeting asking for the information campaign. She said she wants the city to “take a step-back and institute better and more signage, and implement an outreach component that explains the cameras and how they work.”

“I’ve heard from countless constituents that they had no warning that these speed cameras were being installed,” Matos said in a prepared statement. “After many conversations with concerned constituents, it was apparent that there was not enough education and outreach to alert the community about how these cameras work, their sensitivity, and the high cost of the tickets.”

Matos offered her proposal after a Target 12 review of traffic violation data showed five speed cameras generated more than 12,000 speeding tickets in the first 33 days of the new program. More than 2,600 individuals are on the Providence Municipal Court docket Monday to appear if they wish to challenge their $95 ticket.

Tickets can be issued for any vehicle caught traveling at least 11 miles per hour over the posted speed limit between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday, according to the city’s contract with Conduent State and Local Solutions Inc., the private vendor that oversees both speed cameras and red light cameras in the city.

The cameras are also portable, and the city’s contract with Conduent allows for two to be moved to new locations each week. As of Feb. 22, the camera in front of Mount Pleasant High School has generated 4,795 tickets; one on Charles Street generated 4,236 tickets; and another on Thurbers Avenue generated 3,126 tickets.

Two other cameras on Daniel Avenue and Peace Street generated only 36 tickets combined, but the one on Peace Street was stolen in January. (It has since been replaced.)

The General Assembly approved speed cameras in 2016 when they passed the Automated School-Zone-Speed-Enforcement System Act permitting municipalities to install them within a quarter-mile of any type of school. The council voted last May to allow up to 15 speed cameras to be installed around the city.

Matos said the co-sponsors of her resolution include fellow Democratic Councilors Nirva LaFortune, Michael Correia, Carmen Castillo, Luis Aponte, Mary Kay Harris and Bryan Principe.

A spokesperson for Elorza said Friday the city is still planning to deploy six more cameras Monday.

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Dan McGowan ( covers politics, education and the city of Providence for Follow him on Facebook and Twitter: @danmcgowan