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Tomorrow, Alexandria’s City Council is set to review a proposal to bring speed cameras to the city for the first time.

Though scattered across nearby D.C., until a few years ago Alexandria was prohibited from utilizing speed cameras by state ordinance. Now, the city is looking at installing five cameras at various school zones across the city.

The city has seen an overall 10-year decline in car crashes.

“Crash totals from 2011-2020 show a downward trend for all crashes, including those that involved fatal or severe injury,” a city report (page 31 of the pdf, page 4 of the docket) said. “The 2016-2020 annual crash averages by all modes (vehicle-only, pedestrian, bicyclist) and crash type (all and KSI) are less than those seen during 2011-2015. Year over year, vehicle-only crashes had the highest number of KSI crashes followed by pedestrian and then bicyclist crashes.”

Despite the progress, Alexandria has still struggled toward its Vision Zero goal. In addition to speed cameras, Alexandria has also filed for grants to work on overhauling some of the city’s most crash-prone intersections.

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A plan to install Alexandria’s first speed cameras is headed to final review at the City Council later this month.

The ordinance will authorize the installation of five cameras across Alexandria school zones with the goal of reducing speeds in those zones.

The ordinance doesn’t specify where those cameras will be placed but adds “photo speed monitoring devices” into the city code.

The ordinance will allow cameras for use both in school zones and in highway work zones.

The new ordinance comes after Virginia code was amended in 2020 to allow limited use of speed cameras in the aforementioned school zones and highway work zones. The five cameras installed will be the first speed cameras in Alexandria.

A presentation to the City Council presented a few parameters for the program:

  • A sworn police officer must confirm the violations
  • Signs must clearly be placed alerting drivers in advance of the speed camera enforcement zone
  • Fines cannot exceed $100

Staff recommended approval of the new ordinance. The proposal is scheduled for first reading next Tuesday, Oct. 11, and final review on Saturday, Oct. 15

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The scene of a crash outside Jefferson Houston Elementary School, March 29, 2022. (staff photo by James Cullum)

Alexandria is moving forward with plans to install new speed enforcement cameras with public meetings planned this fall ahead of implementation next year.

In a release, the City of Alexandria said the approved speed cameras in school zones are expected to launch in early 2023. The release said the city will provide updates on the program at the:

  • Sept. 26: Traffic and Parking Board public hearing
  • Oct. 11: City Council legislative meeting

The release said the city is planning to install five cameras in school zones next year.

The new cameras were approved after a driver struck a child at an intersection just outside of Jefferson Houston Elementary School (200 block of North West Street). A state law passed in 2020 authorized the use of speed cameras in school and work zones, and both Arlington and the City of Fairfax have been working on implementing cameras in school zones.

“Speed cameras may be fixed or portable,” the release said. “They are placed along the roadway and automatically record speed limit violations. After a sworn law enforcement officer affirms the violation, a speeding citation is mailed to the vehicle’s owner, lessee, or renter. The maximum fine is $100.”

The city said the speed camera locations will be selected through a data-driven process that considers vehicle speeds, vehicle volume, and the history of crashes nearby.

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