Broken Traffic Cameras Posing Safety Risks

traffic camera
About 150 of 500 cameras in Los Angeles are reportedly broken. (Thinkstock)
traffic camera
About 150 of 500 cameras in Los Angeles are reportedly broken. (Thinkstock)

Almost 150 of the 500 traffic cameras throughout Los Angeles are broken, posing a public safety risk and hampering traffic management, City staffers told a Council committee today.

“We are handicapped in being able to monitor traffic,” City transportation engineer Sean Skehan said during a Public Safety Committee meeting. “Situations develop and we are not able to address them.”

Skehan said the number of failed traffic cameras has continued to grow ever since City officials began looking into the Automated Traffic Surveillance Control system one year ago as part of the effort to strengthen surveillance and public safety capabilities in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing.

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The cameras failed due to age and exposure to “wind and rain and other elements,” Skehan said.

The traffic camera failures also pose a risk to public safety, Sgt. Dan Gomez told the committee.

In addition to being used for day-to-day traffic monitoring, the traffic cameras are employed during special events and emergencies to coordinate and manage response, according to a Transportation Committee report.

Councilwoman Nury Martinez, a member of the Public Safety Committee, expressed alarm when told 15 traffic cameras in her district no longer work, including one at Roscoe and Van Nuys boulevards.

“About two months ago, the Daily News called Roscoe (Boulevard) and Van Nuys Boulevard one of the most dangerous intersections in the San Fernando Valley,” she said.

The camera at that intersection “has been out for awhile,” staff informed her.

Staff said they have yet to look into whether crime and other incidences spiked at locations where traffic cameras stopped working.

The committee on May 23 signed off on a nine-month, $750,000 contract with Siemens Industry, Inc., to perform emergency replacement of the traffic cameras.

The new cameras would be more “robust” and shielded from the weather, Skehan said.

The contract requires the approval of the full City Council to be awarded.