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Fairview photo radar pilot project deemed success

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The first phase of a photo radar pilot project in Fairview is apparently going so well that the city may not install photo radar equipment.

The project stems from House Bill 3438, which passed in 2013 allowing Fairview, and only Fairview, to launch a pilot project testing video photo radar for speeders in school zones. But the City Council was uncertain if it wanted to move froward with the project in the first place.

In November, the project got the go-ahead, but with some conditions. Before photo radar was installed, flashing lights and “Your speed is” signs were to be installed on Northeast Halsey Street between Northeast 201st Avenue and Northeast 208th Place.

“I have never seen people driving so slow,” said Mayor Ted Tosterud during a Feb. 3 work session.

Initial data from the flashing lights and speed signs indicate photo radar might not be necessary.

“People are obeying the law here is what it’s showing,” said Sgt. Gary Kirby, who took over the project when former police chief Ken Johnson retired.

Kirby said once the flashers went in, there was a marked decrease in speed. Comparing the initial speed study conducted in November before the signs were installed to a study conducted last week, drivers appear to have slowed down. In November, 39 percent of drivers were traveling at 20 mph or less in the school zone headed west on Halsey Street. In January, that number increased to 50 percent of drivers.

“So what this shows is we don’t need photo radar,” Tosterud said. “I don’t know if we have to go much further to make a decision.”

Kirby said this decrease indicates speeding-focused law enforcement is no longer needed in that area.

“I would like to move law enforcement to areas where it’s needed,” he said.

Councilor Natalie Voruz said this is a huge accomplishment.

“There was so much contention on this,” Voruz said. “In the end we put public safety first.”

As the project comes from the Oregon Legislature, Tosterud said he will likely forward the data on, and possibly write a letter informing the Legislature that Fairview will not proceed with photo radar as a speed enforcement method in school zones.


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