Philly road’s red-light camera program extended

| 1/2/2008

Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell has signed a bill into law that will keep red light cameras posted along a 14-mile stretch of U.S. Route 1. Another new law prohibits fees for collision investigations.

Since 2005, red light cameras along Roosevelt Boulevard have been credited with sharp reductions in injuries and deaths. The cameras are posted at eight intersections along the boulevard. Violators face $100 fines.

With the camera program set to expire at the end of the month, House lawmakers voted 135-57 on the final day of the 2007 session to extend the program along the 12-lane, 14-mile boulevard, which is a section of U.S. Route 1, through 2011. The Senate previously approved it by unanimous consent, and Rendell signed off on the measure Dec. 18, 2007.

The bill – HB17 – continues to earmark revenue from red light violations to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. Department officials say the bulk of funds will be used for improvements along the Boulevard, The Evening Bulletin reported.

Critics of using camera income for transportation sought to reroute some of it to the Philadelphia School District.

House Transportation Chairman Richard Geist, R-Altoona, was opposed to using fines to fund schools. He said the cameras are intended to boost safety, not revenue.

Another bill signed by the governor prevents municipalities from charging fees for police investigations of motor vehicle wrecks.

Municipalities now levying fees charge drivers or insurance companies.

The township of Radnor, a suburb of Philadelphia, voted in 2006 to levy fees against nonresidents involved in wrecks. The township later repealed the ordinance after an outcry, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported.

The new law, previously HB131, takes effect in mid February.

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– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor