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6/16/2005
DC Looks to Justify Low Speed Limits
The Washington, DC city council considers funding a study re-evaluating speed limits in the District.

Phil Mendelson
The Washington, DC city council may fund a study re-evaluating speed limits in the District. The council's Public Works committee heard testimony yesterday from individuals angry at the "speed traps" the city had set up by installing speed cameras on broad thoroughfares with artificially low speed limits.

For example, Benning Road in Northeast DC has eight lanes of traffic but only a 30 MPH speed limit. The city has just installed a fixed speed camera on the road. Interstate 295 has a 50 MPH speed limit and is one of the most common locations for the city's mobile speed cameras.

Councilman Phil Mendelson (D) argued for his bill which would force the District to conduct a study to justify the limits. His measure does not target the cameras themselves. "Speed cameras have been very effective tool in the District, there's no denying that," Mendelson said in a statement.

Since 1999, the cameras have issued 1,851,066 tickets worth approximately $138 million in revenue. Mendelson's bill would direct the profit away from the general fund to the city's Highway Trust Fund. "This is still a relatively new funding source, and I don't want the general fund to become addicted to it," Mendelson said.

The full city council may consider the bill next week. The District Department of Transportation has already begun the study.



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