Intersection ready for close-up 

Red-light runners, beware.

The city plans on installing another set of red-light cameras at the intersection of El Camino Real and Millbrae Avenue in April, on the heels of what is, thus far, considered a successful run at camera enforcement at Millbrae Avenue and Rollins Road.

Red-light cameras were high on the city’s wish list for a while, before the City Council approved an agreement with Arizona-based American Traffic Solutions in June. The city is waiting for final approval from Caltrans, which regulates El Camino Real, before moving ahead with another camera installation at the busy Millbrae Avenue intersection.

The cameras at Millbrae Avenue and Rollins Road, located right in front of the Millbrae BART station, were installed in September and officially went into effect after a state-mandated 30-day warning period.

Millbrae police Sgt. John Aronis said in a report that the cameras have already had a positive impact on traffic. In three and half months, 801 red-light citations were handed out, a staggering reduction from the 1,023 in four hours tallied by ATS during the trial period a year ago, Aronis said.

In 2004-2006, the city saw eight injury collisions and 15 accidents yielding property damage at the Millbrae Avenue and Rollins Road intersection. Aronis estimated that a third of them were caused by red-light violations.

Even if people don’t get caught with the cameras, drivers do appear to be wary of the cameras and are slowing down more at yellow lights, Mayor Marc Hershman said.

"As someone who uses the intersection frequently, drivers do seem more attentive than they have in the past," Hershman said.

That rang true for Burlingame resident Teresa Wilson, who said she rarely punches through an intersection at the sight of a yellow light now after hearing several horror stories from friends slapped with heavy fines."There’s no way I’m getting stuck with one of those if I can help it," Wilson said.

The red-light violation fine is $358.50, of which $138 goes to the city, according to Aronis. City Manager Ralph Jaeck said that the revenue generated from the tickets appears to be on target with projections of $100,000 annually, but did not have details.

Several cities, including San Mateo, Burlingame and Daly City, have installed red-light cameras to free up patrol resources and generate revenue. Some citizens have argued that red-light cameras are unconstitutional, reasoning that the driver doesn’t have the right to face his or her accuser if cameras are doing the enforcing. Attempts to challenge the cameras in court, however, have been unsuccessful so far.

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