DES MOINES, IOWA -- The Iowa Department of Transportation is applauding a Polk County judge’s ruling this week that found the DOT has the authority to order cities to remove automated traffic enforcement cameras from highways and interstates.
“We believe traffic cameras do have a role on the primary highway system, as long as they're working to impact safety. In the cases of these particular cameras, it was proven through a process that there was an issue with them and they were not working to impact the safety of that particular area,” said Andrea Henry, director of the Office of Strategic Communications for the Iowa Department of Transportation.
Court documents give the following background on the situation in Des Moines:
“In November 2011, Des Moines installed a camera using Gatso technology to monitor the speed of vehicles traveling eastbound on I-235 between the 4700-4200 blocks. The site was selected due to heavy traffic and its grade and layout creating risk for law enforcement officers to position themselves safely to monitor speed or respond to accidents. Des Moines gathered information from the ATEs and timely submitted its 2013 annual report.
"On March 17, 2015, Des Moines received an evaluation of the ATE system from Steve Gent, a Director of Traffic and Safety with the IDOT. The evaluation ordered Des Moines to remove the ATE citing low crash rate prior to the camera installment and limited use on interstate roadways. On April 16, 2015, Des Moines sent a Notice of Appeal to IDOT. On May 11, 2015, IDOT Director Paul Trombino III summarily denied the appeal.”
“We've done a review with crash analysis and viewing the cameras and the placement of the cameras, and that's how we made that determination,” said Henry.
As a result of that analysis, the Iowa DOT wants that camera and nine others removed.
“We reviewed those cameras on an annual basis. In this particular case, there were ten within the state that we found were not meeting our standards of safety," Henry continued.
The Des Moines Police Department disagrees with the Iowa DOT's findings. Sergeant Paul Parizek issued the following statement on behalf of the Department:
“It is the intention of City administration to appeal this decision. Data shows that excessive speed on I-235 continues to be a safety concern, as there has not been a decrease in citations issued. The red light cameras, two of which are located on state highways, have contributed to a 9% reduction in crashes since installed in 2011. The use of this technology allows for the increased availability of police officers who can respond to citizens requesting assistance, and that alone demonstrates the value of the cameras."
“Right now, the cities have the right to appeal the judge's decision," said Henry. "They have 30 days to file that appeal, and, like I said, we have heard that Des Moines has chosen to do so, and until that can work itself out through the legal process, the DOT will not take any actions in removing those cameras."