7/26/2013Iowa: Judge Rescues Sioux City Speed Camera Program
Judge intervenes to ensure Sioux City, Iowa speed camera program will continue issuing tickets on the freeway.
The state of Iowa wants speed cameras off its freeways, but a local magistrate has other ideas. On Tuesday Woodbury County District Court Judge Jeffrey L. Poulson intervened and ordered Redflex Traffic Systems of Australia to continue issuing tickets until further notice. An expedited hearing is scheduled for Friday to decide whether the ticketing will be allowed permanently.
The conflict between the Iowa Department of Transportation (IDOT) and Sioux City has been simmering since March, but the conflict erupted last week with a letter to Mayor Bob Scott. IDOT District Engineer Tony G. Lazarowicz ordered the city to remove the cameras from a construction zone on Interstate 29 after city staff rejected more polite requests during the year.
"The department has the overall responsibility for the construction site, and we have informed the Sioux City Police that they are to remove the automated video enforcement trailers from within the construction zone," Lazarowicz wrote on July 17. "If these units are not removed within 48 hours from the time you receive an electronic copy of this letter, the department will exercise its available legal remedies to have the automated video enforcement trailers removed."
A formal agreement dividing duties between the city and IDOT for the I-29 construction project grants IDOT permission to remove any "obstructions" within the highway right of way. City officials are terrified of losing the revenue generated by the 29,697 tickets Redflex was able to issue last year. Sioux City officials complained that IDOT has been giving mixed messages about the acceptability of photo enforcement since the department installed the photo ticketing warning signs when the program started in 2011. The state agency may be taking its cue from Governor Terry Branstad who visited Sioux City last year and blasted the use of cameras to generate municipal revenue.
"That is absolutely the wrong thing to do," the governor said.
Sioux City insists the state has no right to cancel its contract with Redflex, a for-profit Australian company, and that shutting down the cameras would damage highway safety. Judge Poulson rubber stamped the city's claim.
"The court finds the petition, supported by affidavit, shows the plaintiff is entitled to relief which includes restraining the commission or continuance of an act which would greatly or irreparably injure the plaintiff," Judge Poulson wrote. "Defendants, state of Iowa and the Iowa Department of Transportation, are hereby temporarily enjoined from removing any automated traffic enforcement unit from Interstate 29 within the limits of the city of Sioux City until further order of this court."
A copy of the order is available in a 70k PDF file at the source link below.