AUBURN – A plan to catch red-light scofflaws with digital photographs is on the shelf, waiting for federal funding.

A $40,000 grant to test red-light cameras in the Twin Cities is part of a federal highway funding package tied up in Washington.

“We have the money,” said Don Craig, director of the Androscoggin Transportation Resource Center. “We just can’t get to it. And until we can, there’s not much we can do.”

The U.S. Senate and House of Representatives are currently deadlocked over funding for highways for the next six years. The Senate favors $318 billion in spending while the House favors $284 billion. The White House has threatened to veto anything more than $256 billion.

The money to pay for the red-light camera pilot program in Maine is part of that funding package.

Once the funding comes through, local officials will need two to three months to gear up for the program, Craig said. Then red-light cameras will go up over at least one Twin Cities intersection. A combination of radar and digital cameras will capture images of red-light runners just as they enter the intersection and about halfway through.

“And we’ll get their license plates,” Craig said. “We’re not going to worry about getting their faces.”

Drivers caught running the intersection would receive copies of the photograph with a stern warning from police.

“This is just a test, at this point,” Craig said. “We’re not at the point where we could ticket cars.”

Craig hopes the delay will give him a chance to make a deal with camera manufacturers who want to test how well their cameras work in cold weather.

The original plan, announced in February, was to have the program in place by summer.

“Now, if we start in the fall, that’ll continue through the winter,” Craig said. “And we want to know how well these work in the winter, too.”


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