The Iowa Department of Transportation is in the final phase of determining if traffic cameras in six cities meet the requirements of new state rules that began in February. D-O-T director of traffic and safety, Steve Gent, says they have finished the review of the reports required of the cities and they still have some questions. There’s an issue with the speed cameras in I-380 in Cedar Rapids. “At this point we really just need to gather more information. There appears to possibly be an issue in Cedar Rapids that we need to be dealing with and that came about by looking at their review,” Gent says. “That’s probably the one that’s the biggest concern right at the moment.” He says the issue involves the speed zones near the cameras.
He says they want more information on whether the speed cameras on I-380 are located within one-thousand feet of a lower speed limit. Gent says they also had an issue with the Sioux City report. “Sioux City did not provide us before crash data. Anytime you are looking at a safety enhancement, you always look at the crashes before the enhancement was put into place and then crashes afterward,” Gent says. “And of course that was required by the rule and I am not sure why they didn’t submit that. We need more information.”
Other questions involved the before and after crash data for two cameras in Davenport, questions about crashes and violations for each intersection in Muscatine, and concerns raised about the number of red-light violations for an intersection in Des Moines. Gent says the rules are designed to be sure the cameras are used on state controlled roadways to enhance safety. and that’s what they are trying to determine in the review.
“These traffic cameras are okay as long as they are absolutely — and people have to believe that — they are for safety. If people believe that they are a money-making scheme, then that’s a terrible situation. That’s not about what our government is supposed to do,” Gent says. He hopes to wrap up the issue before the end of the year to determine if all the cameras are in compliance. “The emails were sent out last week for more information and we asked for that information back within a month,” Gent says. “Certainly by the end of the year we will have all of these resolved. When we have issues, we are going to sit down with the cities and make sure we understand all the issues and that they understand all the issues, and we will work together on coming to a resolution.”
Other cities had cameras on state roads, but decided to make changes. Clive decided to shut down its cameras in June. Windsor Heights and Fort Dodge decided to only place their speed cameras on local roadways, which are not covered by D-O-T rules.