Dear Transportation Secretary Doug MacDonald and King County Executive Ron Sims….

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 1:03 pm

Mr. MacDonald and Mr. Sims,

I am writing to you with a suggestion that may help alleviate the growing problem of motorists running red lights in our state.

I am sure that the two of you, like most Washington residents, have noticed the strange proliferation of this irresponsible and antisocial behavior among Washington drivers. Short of placing a motorcycle cop at every major intersection, the red-light camera would seem to be the only viable deterrent to these people. I applaud King County’s recent pilot program to install these units at a growing number of intersections throughout the area. However, this program would not seem to apply to my neighborhood.

I live in Normandy Park, a suburb just south of Burien and north of Des Moines. It is a small but well-funded community with, among other amenities, its own police department. I recently contacted the Normandy Park PD to ask about the possibility of installing a camera at the intersection of 1st Avenue South and Normandy Road, an intersection where this dangerous transgression has become increasingly common. I have witnessed dozens of this sort of violation at this intersection over the last year or so, but I finally reached the breaking point when I witnessed a King County Metro Access Transportation Service vans—the vans that carry elderly, disabled and otherwise physically compromised citizens—accelerate to run a stoplight that had been red for at least one full second. I followed the driver and got the license and vehicle number of the van and reported the incident to King County Metro. I hope to hear back from them soon.

When I spoke to our local police about the best path to pursue in trying to arrange for a camera at this intersection, I was told that, because 1st Avenue South is considered to be State Route 509 at that particular geographic point, it was a State road and therefore under State jurisdiction. This is why I included you in this communication, Mr. MacDonald.

I imagine that many concerned citizens are probably contacting many State, County and Local offices to find out how they might arrange to install such devices at troublesome locations all over the region. I realize that these devices must cost a fair amount of money, and I think I might have come up with an innovative solution for partial or even full funding for their installation: Adopt-A-Camera.

If citizens were to be given the opportunity to directly sponsor the installation of cameras at troublesome stoplights in their area, I can well imagine that you would get more than a few takers. In fact, I will be happy to cast the opening bid: my wife and I will pledge 500 dollars towards the installation of a red-light camera at the intersection of 1st Avenue South and Normandy Road. We will increase our bid to a thousand dollars if we are given sole rights to the wording on a sign or placard placed at the intersection. We were thinking of emblazoning it with the phrase


With the help of a modest public-awareness campaign, I think you would find that many people in a number of communities would be willing to contribute the funds for the extra security of a red-light camera or two in their neighborhood. This is the kind of self-empowerment that resonates well with citizens of both liberal and conservative leanings. And if the initial outlay of funds for the installation can be covered by members of the community, the funds for ongoing maintenance may well be provided courtesy of the violators caught by the system itself. According to a July 19, 2007 article in the Seattle Times, red-light cameras installed at four intersections in town have generated over $900,000 in citations, at $101 per. To be sure, some intersections would result in higher “returns” than others, but if the revenues available for ongoing operating costs were spread out over the entire Adopt-A-Camera system, I imagine that it could break even, perhaps even run a small surplus.

I think that Adopt-A-Camera might be a small but significant part of the solution to this growing problem, and I hope that you will give my suggestion some consideration.

Thanks for your time,

Andrew Lenzer

7 Responses to “Dear Transportation Secretary Doug MacDonald and King County Executive Ron Sims….”

  1. Tony Lenzer Says:

    A very cool idea, Andrew; I applaud this evidence of Civic Virtue as well as your grasp of the practical realities of getting this proposal off the ground, as well as keeping it going. Locally, we have the adopt-a-highway program…which suffers both from a lack of follow-up by the Authorities and a funding mechanism. It’s all based on volunteer labor, and the idea itself lacks some of the urgency of potentially hazardous intersections. Keep us posted on this one.
    PS check your spelling on Transportation

  2. Uncle Andrew Says:

    PS check your spelling on Transportation

    😳 *Ahem* What, looks fine to me. Check your glasses, old man!

    Also, Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia…. 😉

  3. david Says:

    i think both you guys have too much time on yer hands

  4. Uncle Andrew Says:

    Sez the guy who took the time to comment on it. 😀

  5. david Says:

    ya i know pretty bad huh just waiting for 4. phones not ringing
    dont want to do that whole cold call salesman thing yuk
    i prefer to hang up on those people

  6. Dalek Says:

    I like the “adopt-a-camera” fund-raising campaign idea. I hope they take you up on it! :mrgreen:

  7. Uncle Andrew Says:

    Yeah, I’m serious about this; I think it would really fly in the middle- to upper-middle-class neighborhoods that are full of people sick of watching a growing number of assholes endanger everybody. And it’s a lot cheaper to implement than my original idea of giant hydraulic steel walls that shoot up out of the asphalt and block the street the instant the light turns red….though nowhere near as fun. 😈

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