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Camera Fines May Top $160 Million in District of Columbia

July 31, 2001

The District of Columbia expects to collect more than $160 million in traffic light fines by 2004 from automated law-enforcement cameras designed to nab red-light runners and speeders, this according to contracts obtained by The Washington Times.The city’s contract with Lockheed Martin IMS, which designs and operates the systems, indicates the District is counting on sending out an estimated 80,000 new speeding tickets a month by the time the program is fully operational on Aug. 1, 2001. There were only 10,000 speeding tickets issued in all of last year in the District.The cameras have rankled privacy rights advocates, including some members of Congress. Rep. Bob Barr (R-GA) told The Times the use of red-light and photo radar cameras are an unwarranted extension of government power. The District’s infatuation with surveillance of its citizens could hurt the city in funding battles on Capitol Hill, Barr warned.“It’s a very legitimate issue,” Barr said. “Now an outside corporation and the District of Columbia have a clear financial interest in people breaking the law.”The contracts between the District and Lockheed call for 39 red-light cameras across the city and a modification that authorizes Lockheed to operate the photo radar system.According to the red-light camera contract, signed in 1999, Lockheed expects to net more than $44 million by 2004, the year the contract ends. The District’s share is expected to top $117 million.The District has already taken in more than $12 million from more than 230,000 paid red-light violations since the cameras were installed.
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