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Newberg's lone red light camera will be removed

Transportation — City elects not to fight ODOT on removal to make way for bypass

The Newberg City Council voted last week to not oppose the Oregon Department of Transportation when it comes time to remove the red light camera at Highway 99W and Springbrook Road. But the plan is not exactly ideal either, the council found.

“If we were to go back on this at this time, then we could very well push out the construction period of that portion of the bypass back by months or a year or so because there would have to be all these conversations,” said Newberg Mayor Bob Andrews. “It is imperative we get the first phase of the bypass completed.”

The camera was installed in 2006 by Redflex, a private company working on contract with the city. Redflex received $87.22 per paid citation for the first 75 issued, with the remaining funds going to the city. After the first 75 citations, the city no longer paid any fees.

“We’ve been very fortunate, I think, in the red light camera doing (its) job,” Andrews said. “We’ve had a reduction in the number of citations (because) people are not running the red light like they used to. So the revenue will go down a little bit, but not significantly.”

Although the city maintains the camera was improving safety at the intersection, ODOT data shows there was a 65 percent increase in rear-end crashes, without a reduction in the number of turning crashes, since the light was installed. The city argues that while the data may be considered accurate by ODOT, the analysis did not include video feed or detail needed to determine what caused the crashes.

Regardless, the City Council, along with the Police Chief Brian Casey, City Attorney Truman Stone and Public Works Director Jay Harris decided disputing the decision would be counterproductive. In the stipulation agreed upon at the Sept. 2 meeting, ODOT must revisit the issue once the intersection construction is complete, as well as the camera remaining intact until absolutely necessary to remove.

“That was kind of understood, but we wanted to stipulate that. We have no idea yet the complications of that and what new technology may do to mitigate some of those problems (with the intersection),” Andrews said. “It’s a wait and see kind of thing.”

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