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Winter Springs removes red light cameras

Red light cameras have been phased out in Winter Springs.

Red light cameras have been phased out in Winter Springs.

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Winter Springs residents driving down State Road 434 may not be slamming on the brakes as often these days.

The city took down its red-light cameras two months ago, after an agreement was terminated between the city and its vendor, American Traffic Solutions (ATS).

The city’s two red light cameras were located on State Road 434, one at the intersection on Winding Hollow Boulevard and the other at Vistawilla Drive.

“Very simply, the city’s contractual agreement with the vendor was terminated,” said Winter Springs Police Captain Chris Deisler, a liaison between the camera vendor and the department. “That’s why they’re gone. That does not mean that we may not pursue the program again, but right now we’re just reevaluating it.”

Though the equipment was removed two months ago, the cameras stopped recording as far back as December, when the agreement was called off.

Winter Springs Mayor Charles Lacey said the city was unhappy with ATS’ cost and service and they are considering finding another vendor to run their red-light program. ATS did not return requests for comment.

Lacey said the cameras took in about $1,000 a month — equal to about six citations. Shawn Boyle, director of finance and administrative services for the city, said that of each $158 fine, $83 or 53 percent went to the state coffers. The rest, on most occasions, went to the vendor, who administered the cameras and ticketing. That left the city with “crumbs.”

With an annual budget of $44 million in Winter Springs, the red light camera revenue wasn’t even a drop in the bucket, Lacey said. “Whether we have cameras or not, it’s not a financial issue,” Lacey said. “It’s about balancing safety and personal liberty.”

Oviedo had also looked into whether the cameras would be worth installing, but has yet to move forward with installing any.

No recent information on citations were available, but a 2011 Voice report showed that the numbers had been sporadic, with 58 citation fees collected in May 2009 and 77 collected in January 2011 at the State Road 434/ Winding Hollow intersection.

Though the numbers have gone up and down, Deisler said that having cameras present helped keep the intersections safe.

“I think they were very effective. As far as a public safety standpoint is concerned, you can’t really debate it,” Deisler said. “When you’re more aware of a red light, you are less likely to run the red light. It really is that simple.”

Winter Springs resident Jeff Czurak knew a co-worker who received a red light citation at one of the intersections and said that the cameras kept everything in order.

“I kind of liked them there. It helps keep the traffic in the area under control,” said Czurak, who’s lived in Winter Springs for 16 years. “If you know it’s there, you won’t try to run it.”

Other citizens saw an upside to the absence of the cameras.

“This can be an advantage for all the people who make a right turn on red,” said Dick Byrne, a resident of Winter Springs for 27 years. “You can’t pick and choose the people that it catches.”

With red light cameras being a potential target of restrictive legislation at the state level, Lacey said that the city of Winter Springs plans to wait until the spring before looking for another vendor.

“When people speak about red-light cameras, they usually think of three things: revenue generation, liberty and safety,” Lacey said. “There are advocates for all three. Money is not a factor here. The police believe that these cameras are a big contributor for the safety in intersections.”