An overwhelming majority of area residents who contacted Scottsdale in the past week support the city’s Loop 101 photo enforcement program, writing that it has reduced speeds and made them feel safer.
A Tribune review of e-mails sent to photo@ScottsdaleAZ.gov — an e-mail address established to receive comments about the nine-month trial program — showed more than 75 percent of those who responded supported the program, although both supporters and opponents raised concerns with the camera flashes they said were blinding and potentially dangerous.
On Wednesday, Scottsdale hosted two open houses at Mustang Library to gather additional comments on the freeway enforcement program, the first of its kind in the state.
Morley Meredith, one of about 60 residents who attended the open houses, said it’s unfortunate we need “Big Brother” out there but there’s a need to keep the cameras rolling.
“It’s necessary because people make it that way,” Meredith said. “We don’t have the number of patrolmen out there that we need.”
Ken Ellsworth fears what will happen if Scottsdale restarts the program, which he said is driven by money. So far, Scottsdale has turned a $1 million profit.
“It could spread like a plague across the state,” Ellsworth said.
Since the cameras were turned off, the number of detections of 76 mph or greater — the speed limit is 65 miles per hour — have reached alltime highs. The first week averaged 3,657 detections, including 5,935 on Saturday and 5,515 on Sunday when there was no rush hour. During the nine-month program, the average number of detections per day was 800. Scottsdale is continuing to use in-road sensors to record speeds through Jan. 23.
As of Tuesday, 93 e-mails supported the cameras while 18 opposed the camera with nine making observations or asking questions without taking a position. The city is planning a scientific poll later this month.
Supporters say the cameras are necessary because they slow down traffic and make the road safer to drive. Crash data for the program’s eight-mile stretch is still being analyzed. Opponents pointed out that the cameras create a dangerous situation where people slow down at the cameras and then speed up.
Another opponent wrote the program was more representative of Nazi Germany or North Korea.
An Arizona State University professor is analyzing the traffic and crash data collected during the program. A report will be presented in January, at which time the council will decide whether to continue the program.
There were 189,881 total detections, and Scottsdale ticketed more than 132,000 motorists between Feb. 22 and Oct. 23.