Change is coming for City speed cameras

BALTIMORE (WMAR) - Change is coming for Baltimore City's troubled speed camera program.

Speed cameras have earned millions of dollars in fines for Baltimore City, but with reports surfacing of outdated, malfunctioning cameras the city decided to bring in a new company to operate them.

However, on Tuesday Frank Murphy, the city's acting director of transportation, denied a published report that all 83 of the city's speed cameras would be replaced.

Instead, he said:  "All cameras will be evaluated and that evaluation will tell us which ones need to be replaced and which ones are just fine."

The new vendor chosen by the city to run the speed camera program -- the Brekford Corporation of Anne Arundel County, did not return several phone calls from ABC-2, but it was awarded the speed camera contract by the Board of Estimates late last year.

City officials now say replacing all 83 of the cameras would cost more than $450-thousand.

And Murphy says at least for now, according to the city's contract with Brekford, the city would not have to absorb that cost.

"At least at this point there is nothing in the contract about additional costs, now I'm not saying that may not end up being part of it but at least at this point there is no fixed number like that in the contract," he said.

Brekford's contract with Baltimore City was supposed to start on January 1 st, but Murphy said that's not set in stone either.  "We're not sure about that. We're in the process of negotiating the actual contract which will be signed pretty soon," he said.

Which means right now it's not clear who, if anyone -- is running the speed camera program.

All that can be assured is that some of the cameras will be replaced very soon -- and all the rest will be evaluated over a longer-term period.

"We've got a couple of new ones that will be up just in, we think next week. Or at most in two weeks," Murphy said.

The new cameras would do a better job, city officials say, of focusing on one speeding car, instead of getting distracted by other nearby vehicle; they think that's what led to most of the erroneous tickets.

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