Written by Michelle Corless, Multimedia Journalist - bio | email
IOWA CITY (KWWL) -
The Iowa Department of Transportation is putting the brakes on red light cameras in Iowa City -- at least for now.
Earlier this year, the Iowa City City Council approved adding the cameras to several intersections, but over the summer the DOT established new guidelines and won't approve the city's request for cameras until new criteria are met.
The guidelines could impact any city that wants to put up traffic cameras on highways.
They only apply to intersections on primary highways. That's exactly where many of the proposed red light cameras in Iowa City were going to go.
Now officials with the Metropolitan Planning Organization of Johnson County are taking another look at the intersections. They still want to see the cameras installed.
"They've been shown in a lot of cities to reduce collision rates," said Kristopher Ackerson, Assistant Transportation Planner.
Officials want to see cameras at different intersections in the city that they say are dangerous.
"We have some with higher collision rates than others, some with higher pedestrian volumes than others," said Ackerson. "They vary."
The DOT is asking for more information before they'll approve the Iowa City cameras.
The department established new requirements this summer for red light and speed cameras on highways, looking to create statewide consistency.
"We want to make sure that the safety is the real reason they're being put in," said Steve Gent, Traffic and Safety Engineer. "There's no reason to put these in at a location that doesn't have crashes."
The DOT will also look at existing traffic cameras like the ones on Interstate 380 in Cedar Rapids.
That doesn't mean they'll come down; the DOT just wants to make sure the cameras are effective.
"It truly was about reducing the number of crashes, saving lives, and we've done that," said Cristy Hamblin, Cedar Rapids Police Sergeant. "We're meeting all their guidelines. So it's not going to affect us and the way that we do business."
Under the new guidelines, any city with red light or speed cameras on highways has to report data to the DOT each year.
When it comes to the cameras on I-380, Cedar Rapids Police say they haven't had a single fatality on the monitored section since the cameras were installed.
Officials in Iowa City have not set a goal for when they'd like to see cameras up at intersections.
Last year, there was a proposed bill that would have banned traffic cameras.
In January, Governor Branstad said that he would sign it if the bill ever made it to his desk. The bill never got there.
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