7 months after OK, Miami-Dade red light cameras don't click
By Ashley Hopkins
Nearly seven months after the county commission approved use of red light cameras in Miami-Dade's unincorporated areas, the county is still searching for vendors to install the $4,000 camera systems at intersections.
While the county has yet to seek vendors, the Procurement Department is working with the Police Department, Office of Strategic Business Management and Public Works Department to request proposals, said Miriam Singer, procurement management director.
The departments, Ms. Singer said, have spent seven months doing market research to evaluate the best procurement methods and determine what is needed to successfully install the cameras. Officials monitored the state's past legislative session to analyze the impact of the cameras elsewhere, she said, and have followed legal rulings stemming from the use of the equipment.
As county is still preparing to seek bids, said Jessica Bustamante of the Police Department, there's no timeline for installation of cameras.
The legislature passed the Mark Wandall Traffic Safety Act in May 2010 allowing cities, counties and the Department of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles to install the red light cameras. While cameras have since popped up around Miami-Dade, their use is spread across the county's many municipalities and they weren't procured through the county.
Violations caught on camera are to result in a $158 fine, a rate set by the state. Of the $158, the county would keep $75, $70 would go to the state general fund, $10 would go to trauma centers, including Jackson Memorial Hospital, and $3 would go to the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis.
While the county commission approved the camera systems in January, it barred use of the equipment to enforce right-hand turn violations, which account for nearly 89% of camera catches.
According to county documents, when right-hand turn violations are excluded, market research reveals that most cameras catch 120 violations per approach each month and that 63% of violations are paid.
Based on these numbers, if Miami-Dade installs the system at 200 red light approaches, it could generate $13.5 million each year.
Each camera costs $4,000 to $6,000 a month to rent, Ms. Singer said, adding that renting would allow procurement officials to benefit from vendor expertise and reduce up-front expenses.
If the county were to secure cameras, a $4,000, annual expenses for each could reach about $9.6 million per year. According to county documents, as processing is expected to cost $4.36 per violation, or about $1.3 million annually, the cameras could net the county about $2.6 million in their first year.
While the county could stand to profit, Ms. Singer said the county hasn't set a budget for the project.
The commission has directed the administration to place signs at intersections indicating that the cameras may be in use, conduct a public-awareness campaign at least 30 days before the cameras are installed and report annual findings to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles and the commission by Oct. 1, 2012.
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