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Arlington’s speed camera program slowly moves forward

Red light camera in Rosslyn (file photo)

While Fairfax County mulls installing speed cameras, it may be some time before locals see speed cameras go up in Arlington.

In January, the Arlington County Board approved their installation in school and work areas to reduce speed-related crashes in these areas. The move is part of its Vision Zero campaign to eliminate traffic fatalities and injuries.

The Board made its move after the Virginia legislature allowed municipalities to install them in these locations in 2020.

But the Arlington County Police Department is still working on finding a vendor to implement the cameras, says Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Katie O’Brien.

“ACPD is in the process of launching a procurement for a vendor, which is estimated to wrap up in spring 2023,” she tells ARLnow.

Once a vendor is chosen, the pace toward implementation could speed up. O’Brien says the county will have a better idea of where the cameras will go and when they’ll be installed “once vendor procurement is complete.”

The same is true for community updates.

“We will begin further community outreach and education once we are closer to procuring a vendor and beginning implementation, which will likely be in spring 2023,” she said.

Camera locations have not yet been chosen, said O’Brien. But Arlington schools have been close to a number of notable crashes, including a fatal crash involving a motorcyclist in front of Drew Elementary School, a fatal crash involving a pedestrian and a driver near Nottingham Elementary School, a fatal pedestrian crash near Thomas Jefferson Middle School, and a less serious crash involving a cyclist near Kenmore Middle School.

Locations will be chosen based on guidelines that DES has worked on with a consultant. That effort, funded by a Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments grant, is wrapping up, O’Brien said.

“The County (ACPD, APS, and DES) will then collaborate to refine and finalize specifications and guidelines, using the information from the grant project combined with local needs and knowledge,” she said.

Future progress, such as approving the vendor or camera locations, won’t need County Board approval, O’Brien said.

Once installed, cameras will identify and ticket speeding vehicles using radar, and police officers review footage to confirm the speeding violations. Tickets will be issued by mail to drivers traveling at least 10 mph over the speed limit, per state law.

The tickets will cost $50 and won’t result in a points reduction on your driver’s license or impact insurance rates.

“Speed camera fines are intended to encourage people to drive the speed limit,” the county says. “Fines do not generate revenue for police or transportation programs. Rather, fines issued will be distributed to the County’s General Fund. Therefore, there is no incentive to use speed cameras to fund department budgets.”

Community engagement is not set to begin until spring 2023. Previous outreach conducted as part of Arlington’s Vision Zero initiative, which reached more than 1,000 community members, indicated support for the cameras, according to the county.

Likewise, some supported speed cameras during online forums facilitated by Arlington’s Police Practices Work Group, as a way to reduce race- and ethnicity-based disparities in traffic enforcement.

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