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Automated speed cameras on I-5 at Centralia go live Monday

If you drive a certain section of I-5, you might not notice the unassuming, small SUV parked along the shoulder, but you’d better pay attention to the work zone. Otherwise, it will cost you. The SUV is a speed camera car.

“This morning we start automated speed zone enforcement in a work zone in the Centralia area. We’re really trying to bring speeds down in that work zone and work zones all over our state,” says Alice Fiman with the Washington State Department of Transportation.

Fiman says the car, a silver SUV, will photograph the rear license plates of speeding vehicles.

“It could be northbound or southbound. There’s one unit and it moves through the work zone.”

She says the speed camera car works like a school zone camera and operates when workers are on duty in the work zone.

“If traffic going by exceeds a certain speed, a person will be mailed a $137 citation,” says Fiman. “This citation is similar to a parking ticket, it doesn’t go on your insurance.”

The freeway speed in that part of Lewis County is 70 miles per hour, but it’s 60 in the work zone. Signs went up last week warning drivers that enforcement starts Monday.

Over the years, several workers have been injured and killed by cars speeding and driving out-of-control in highway construction zones. Fiman says the camera car has been in use for five years.

“Most recently we were in the I-90, Snoqualmie Pass work zone,” says Fiman. “We had about 504 infractions when it was there for just about a month.”

The camera car will monitor I-5 from Mellen Street to Blakeslee.

WSDOT is looking for other work zones to monitor while they have the system through June, but there are limitations to its use in the Seattle area.

“It has to be parked on the shoulder of a work zone and it a lot of those areas, there’s just not space to park it.”

It’ll be up to the legislature to continue funding for the car beyond June.

Fiman says the camera does not generate revenue for WSDOT.

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