Pittsburgh City Council gives preliminary approval for red-light cameras

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Pittsburgh City Council gave preliminary approval to a bill that lays the groundwork for a red-light camera program in the city.

If the bill is passed next Tuesday and signed by Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, it would likely be a full year before the city gets red-light cameras because the cameras have to be purchased and the state has to approve the intersections where they would be installed.

Signs warning motorists they’re being watched would be installed along with the cameras. For 60 days after the installation of the first camera, offenders would just be sent a warning. Cameras installed subsequently would have a month-long grace period.

After that, red-light runners will be sent a $100 ticket, along with a photo and a web link to a video documenting the offense.

The program would be run through the Pittsburgh Police Bureau, and each violation would have to be reviewed by a police officer.

The legislation comes a year after the state Legislature authorized red light programs in Pittsburgh, but that law sunsets in 2017. If the city wants to continue the program after that, it would require a re-authorization from the Legislature and city council.

Bruce Kraus, the bill’s sponsor, was joined by Councilmen Ricky Burgess and Corey O’Connor and Counclil President Darlene Harris in voting for the bill. Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak and Councilman R. Daniel Lavelle abstained, saying they wanted to hear first from Mayor-elect Bill Peduto, who is still a councilman but out of town.

Councilwoman Theresa Kail-Smith was the sole dissenter. She said she has concerns about whether the cameras cause more rear-end accidents.

Moriah Balingit: mbalingit@post-gazette.com, 412-263-2533 or on Twitter @MoriahBee.

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