- The Washington Times - Friday, August 4, 2006

A Chevy Chase neighborhood is adopting a speed-camera program following a test project that will serve as a model for other parts of Montgomery County.

The Chevy Chase Village Police Department installed a stationary camera this summer along a short stretch of Connecticut Avenue, north of the Chevy Chase Circle.

Police Chief Roy Gordon said the results were favorable but that the department did not keep records of how many motorists were photographed during the test.

He said the camera was put in that area because it is notorious for speeders.

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., a Republican, attempted to stop the use of speed cameras in the county by vetoing a General Assembly bill in 2002 authorizing them. However, the Democratic-controlled legislature overrode the veto.

Ehrlich administration spokesman Henry P. Fawell said the governor has “made his opposition clear” with the veto and continues to view the cameras as “an invasion of privacy and unfairly targeting drivers from outside the county.”

Mr. Ehrlich said when vetoing the bill that it would have created a precedent for speed cameras in other counties without debate on a statewide law.

Maryland already allows red-light cameras, which are used throughout the state, including Montgomery and Prince George’s counties.

Chief Gordon said municipalities that want speed cameras must operate them under the auspices of Montgomery County Police Department, but eventually might be permitted to run their own program.

However, county police officials said this week the program is still in its early stages and that no policies have been developed.

Chief Gordon said the department will start looking for camera vendors this month, then put two cameras in the same spot on Connecticut Avenue — one for northbound and the other for southbound motorists.

The camera was tested by Optotraffic, a Lanham-based company, Chief Gordon said.

Delegate William A. Bronrott, a traffic-safety advocate who has lobbied to target speeders in residential and school zones, lauded the early results.

“I’m glad the program’s moving forward,” said Mr. Bronrott, Montgomery Democrat. “It’s going to work and work well, and news of the preliminary success in Chevy Chase Village is welcomed and not terribly surprising to those who have pushed for” cameras.

Maryland would become only the second jurisdiction on the East Coast to use speed cameras if Chevy Chase Village or another Montgomery County community adopts them.

The District was the first and marked its fifth anniversary in June by reporting more than $111 million in fines collected since starting the program in 2001.

The automated-enforcement program in the District has divided city officials and residents. Many have praised the program, but critics contend that decisions regarding camera placement are influenced by revenue.

The District does not assess points for camera citations, but fines for speeding can be as much as $200. The money goes into the city’s general fund.

Chief Gordon said citations will not include points and that fines will not exceed $40. The revenue would go toward traffic or pedestrian safety.

“That’s all spelled out in the law,” he said. “You can’t just use [the funds] for anything.”

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