DES MOINES, Iowa -- Drivers on Interstate 235 will want to keep an even closer eye on their speed.
After a fight that stretched all the way to the state supreme court, Des Moines has won the right to turn its traffic camera back on. Des Moines shut off the camera last May after losing the first round of the battle against the Iowa Department of Transportation in district court. This 33-page Supreme Court ruling says the DOT does not have jurisdiction to regulate or shut off traffic cameras.
The cities of Des Moines, Muscatine, and Cedar Rapids do have jurisdiction. Nine cameras were ordered to be turned off by the DOT, and the cameras in the three cities that were part of the litigation can now be turned back on, including the one at I-235 in Des Moines.
“I noticed that after it was put in, traffic did slow down quite a bit. People used to really go fast on 235," said Des Moines resident Tim Fast.
It’s unclear how long cities will have control over the more than 70 cameras statewide.
“The Supreme Court said somewhere in the ruling that, obviously, it would ultimately be up to whatever the legislative body decides to do,” said Republican Senator Brad Zaun said.
Zaun disagrees with the ruling and is pushing a bill that would ban cameras altogether. The House amended that bill to allow the DOT to regulate, but Zaun is firm in passing his version to completely ban the devices.
“My plan is, when we get back into session on Monday, to talk to some of my colleagues to see if we want to bring this back up, the House bill that came over, and send it back to the House with the original language that was passed through the Senate in a bipartisan way, 32-18, banning these traffic enforcement cameras statewide," Zaun said.
The Iowa Department of Transportation released this statement saying they uphold the supreme court’s decision and the three cities involved in the litigation can resume operation.
Cities with the cameras make about $12 million a year from tickets. If they are banned, city officials say that money is at risk.