Safety Plan Sidetracked : Transportation: A high-tech camera system intended to nab drivers who illegally cross Blue Line tracks has been stalled by a DMV requirement.
A much-ballyhooed, $25,000 program meant to ticket drivers who illegally cross Blue Line tracks has resulted in no citations, officials acknowledged Thursday. The program--announced amid much fanfare more than a month ago--was intended to snare errant motorists by photographing the drivers and vehicle license plates and then mailing a $104 ticket. But because of a paperwork foul-up, the Department of Motor Vehicles refused to release names and addresses of the violators, stalling the project.
“It got very complicated,” said Clara Potes-Fellow, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission. “I thought, for a fact, that the program was ready. To my eyes it was. To all eyes at the LACTC it was.”
Before the program could begin, several agencies were required to fill out forms requested by the DMV. But project officials said they were unaware of the requirement. Potes-Fellow estimated that the necessary paperwork will be in order sometime this month.
Meanwhile, project officials said the camera will continue to photograph errant drivers at two sites, even though no tickets will be issued until the problem is resolved.
The project employs a camera on Alondra Boulevard at Willowbrook Avenue and on Compton Boulevard at Willowbrook. The latter has photographed about two violators an hour during the Blue Line operating times--between 4:30 a.m. and 11:20 p.m.--said Al Frisch, a security planning consultant with the Rail Construction Corp.
A DMV spokesman said the department notified U.S. Public Technologies--the company that operates the camera system--of the problems Jan. 21, the day transportation commission officials unveiled the program in a press conference.
But the information was not passed on to the transportation commission, Potes-Fellow said. If it had been, “we would not have had a press conference,” she said.
Zev Fogel, president of U.S. Public Technologies, was unavailable to comment Thursday.
When the program was unveiled, officials said that if the system proved effective, 22 cameras would be installed at problem intersections.
This week, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority approved an $8.15-million package to improve safety at grade crossings. Of that, $3.35 million was allocated to expand the camera surveillance program with the installation, purchase and operation of equipment for 22 Blue Line crossings.
“They have been in action. That the violators haven’t received the tickets doesn’t mean we don’t have all the information necessary for the expansion of the program,” Potes-Fellow said. “The program has been moving along correctly, giving the information necessary to evaluate the testing period and make a decision about expansion of the program.”
Since it started operating in July, 1990, the Blue Line--running between Long Beach and Los Angeles--has been involved in more than 140 accidents, including 12 fatalities.