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Long IslandNassau

$6M expected from new red-light cameras

A red-light camera monitors the North Service Road

A red-light camera monitors the North Service Road of the LIE at Ronkonkoma Avenue in Ronkonkoma. (Oct. 28, 2010) Photo Credit: James Carbone

Nassau County expects to generate $6 million in net revenue annually through the addition of 50 more red-light camera sites expected to be approved by the State Legislature Friday, Deputy County Executive Tim Sullivan testified Thursday.

That figure would be a sharp decline from 2011, in which Nassau's original 50 red-light camera intersections generated nearly $28 million in gross revenue, according to county data. Nassau netted nearly $20 million after it paid $8.3 million to a contractor that operates the program, the data shows.

Since 2009, the county has had cameras at many of its busiest intersections. While officials have not determined where the new cameras will be placed, they concede it will probably be in lower-density locations, leading to less revenue.

Red-light camera citations have dropped precipitously in the past six months, from more than 50,000 in August to just over 26,000 in February, according to the data. Monthly revenue from the cameras also has fallen, from $2.8 million in September to just over $2 million last month, the data shows.

Critics have complained that the cameras are solely a revenue-generating device.

Sullivan told the legislature's Budget Review Committee Thursday that motorists have taken notice of the cameras and are "driving differently now. It has changed behavior."

The county issued a report in October that found Nassau's red-light camera program had reduced traffic accidents by an average of 12 to 16 percent.

All of the revenue from the program goes into a Red Light Camera fund created by the county at the end of 2010, Sullivan said. The funds are then used to fund programs for youths, seniors and the physically challenged, as per a 2009 law, he said.

The county legislature still must approve the additional red-light cameras. County spokesman Brian Nevin declined to estimate when the cameras would be rolled out.

Suffolk County also plans to install cameras at 50 more intersections, generating $6 million in annual revenue, officials said.

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