Traffic Cameras for Jenkintown? Think again.

Sorry park fans: This is a dry well.

While Jenkintown Borough promulgates its disingenuous narrative about the Cedar Street acquisitions, some in favor of a proposed pocket park there have suggested that funds for this park might come from red light cameras mounted on Old York Road. What we learned last night shoots down that idea for good.

If you attended the Jenkintown 2035 Workshop last year, you might have heard Police Chief DiValentino tell the gathering that the state deemed Jenkintown ineligible for these cameras due to our size. PennDOT currently will only allow these cameras in communities with populations of 50,000 or greater.

At last night’s Public Safety Committee meeting, the Chief revisited this issue and reiterated the Commonwealth’s position. Council Members seemed intent on getting these cameras for Jenkintown, but the committee failed to ask the more salient questions: Do they really work and are they cost effective?

Apparently not. After Chairman Kieran Farrell adjourned the meeting, I posed these questions to the Chief. Does Abington collect enough traffic fines to cover the cost of their installation? In a word, no. “They’re more trouble than their worth,” the Chief told me. Do they make the intersections safer? Maybe, but so does greater police enforcement, and we already pay for that. Installation of such a system can cost about $100,000 according to the CDC. And that’s just the beginning.

Still, some Council members pressed the Chief to continue lobbying for the cameras on the Borough’s behalf, thinking that PennDOT will come around. Abington does have traffic light cameras installed at Old York and Susquehanna and at Old York and Welsh. I know this mostly because my Waze app tells me so every time I’m within a half mile of them. Thanks to those notifications, I don’t run red lights there. With more than 50 million Waze users worldwide, I suspect that others don’t either.

The Chief did cite some positive news that their current enforcement of the road’s speed limit has had the desired effect of slowing down traffic, especially later at night when lower volumes allow for higher speeds. Jenkintown police will park at the IHOP lot and elsewhere where a higher police profile does slow down drivers.

Does Jenkintown need the cameras? Probably not. Will help us fund anything? Definitely not.

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