Photo radar could hit Alberta highways

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EDMONTON, Alta. — The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) has referred to photo radar as an “addictive revenue source” for governments and it appears Alberta is desperately looking for another hit.

The province is considering expanding photo radar to include primary and secondary highways through the province. Currently, it is run municipally and the photo radar vans only monitor speeds within some cities, but that should change, according to a new report being reviewed by the solicitor general.

The report says photo radar should be permitted on the province’s highways, particularly in rural school zones and construction zones.

Allan Lowe, president of the Alberta Road Builders and Heavy Construction Association, welcomes the thought of having photo radar in construction zones.

“People who work in the field can’t believe how the construction zone speed limits are ignored,” says Lowe. “Certainly as road builders, we would be in favor of this. It could help slow people down and make construction zones a lot safer.”

But CTF Alberta director, John Carpay, feels differently about the proposal.

“The danger is it turns into a cash cow,” says Carpay. “Photo radar is only acceptable if it is put in a high accident location and if drivers are told ahead of time that photo radar will be at that location. The problem now is you have these vague black and white photo radar signs all over the province, but they don’t tell you whether photo radar is there or not.”

In the City of Calgary, photo radar generated about $10 million in 2001.

Solicitor General Heather Forsyth is reviewing the proposal and it is expected to be released within two weeks. The proposal includes a clause that would require the province to maintain the current number of regular highway police patrols even if photo radar is adopted for highway use.

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