School zone camera pilot starts ticketing drivers in Kirkland

The school zone photo enforcement camera pilot at three schools began issuing tickets Oct. 14.

Tickets for the school zone photo enforcement camera pilot at John Muir elementary/Kamiakin middle schools and Rose Hill Elementary School started being issued Oct. 14.

Kirkland City Council approved the implementation of the school safety camera pilot earlier this year with the goal to reduce speeds as students and families are walking or biking to and from school. Photo enforcement cameras operate 30 minutes before and after the start of school and 30 minutes before and after the end of school.

Before issuing tickets, the city conducted a 30-day warning period, starting Sept. 3, to provide adequate notice of the locations of the cameras. More than 3,600 violations were recorded during the first month of the pilot, according to the city.

The John Muir/Kamiakin northbound camera is located at 13900 132nd Ave. NE, with the southbound camera positioned at 14238 132nd Ave. NE. The Rose Hill eastbound camera is located at 12648 NE 80th St. and the westbound camera is at 13110 NE 80th St.

Two traffic studies were conducted last school year to determine the amount of need for traffic cameras at the two sites. According to the data, the two locations had the highest traffic volumes and incidents of excessive speed, accordingt to the traffic enforcement officers.

“This is just one piece of a much larger initiative by the city to look at a number of ways we can increase safety and encourage students to walk and bike to school,” Kirkland communications program manager Kellie Stickney said when the warning period began.

According to the city, the cost of each camera with installation is estimated at $120,000 which is amortized over the five-year contract period. The contract includes a provision for early contract termination that provides for a recalculation of the payments needed to fulfill the city’s obligation.

As of the morning of Oct.14, the fine for exceeding the school zone speed limit of 20 mph will be $136 per incident. A graduated fine of $250 per incident will be issued for speeds more than 30 mph, according to the city.

According to a press release, the ordinance backing the safety cameras limits the use of revenues accrued from fines, which will continue to fund the pilot. If fines cover more than the program, they will be put toward traffic safety personnel and projects included in the city’s transportation capital improvement plan, safer routes to school action plans and the neighborhood safety program — all of which seek to improve safety on school routes.

Next year, council will decide where to go next with the pilot. An additional traffic study will be completed in spring 2020 to find out what impacts the cameras had on affected traffic areas.

After its results come in, council will review the data and determine how to move forward.

For more information on the pilot, visit the frequently asked questions page on the city website.