A Des Moines suburb is moving ahead with plans to become the eighth Iowa city to install speed or red light cameras. The Windsor Heights City Council has given the approval for a speed camera on a busy stretch of interstate that runs through the community.
Windsor Heights police chief, Dennis McDaniel, says they decided to seek the camera after reviewing 10 years of crash data. “We know that Interstate 235, specifically at 63rd Street and 73rd Street, are our two most dangerous roadways in this community. It has our most frequent volume of crashes it also has our most severe crashes,” McDaniel says.
“And beyond that, it is a tremendous drain on personnel resources… if we’re spending our time out there on the interstate all the time handling these crashes, then we’re not able to serve our community in other ways.” McDaniel says they hope a fixed speed camera would cause traffic to slow and lead to a reduction in traffic problems.
“We’re out there roughly every four days for a reportable accident, what that means is the total damage amount is over $1,500 or a personal injury or something worse than that,” McDaniel says. He says that doesn’t factor in other calls, so they are out on the interstate almost every day for some type of call.
A speed camera owned by Des Moines that is just east of the Windsor Heights location took in $192,000 in December. McDaniel says they are looking at setting their fines for speeders at the same level as Des Moines. He says issue of revenue versus safety is one of the biggest criticisms that comes up in the discussion of the speed cameras.
“We realize that there is going to be some revenue generated by this program and what we’re intending to do with that revenue, is to basically offset the expenses of this program,” McDaniel says. He says they use the money to create a position to manage the system as well as add to their patrol. McDaniel says any revenue beyond what is needed to run the camera will go into the capital budget for public safety.
The city also plans to purchase a mobile speed camera trailer. McDaniel says they still have to get approval from the D.O.T. to install the speed camera. There is a bill in the Iowa legislature that would ban the cameras, and McDaniel says their contract is written so they would not lose any money if that happens. The city council in Iowa City recently voted to add red light cameras at up to 10 intersections.
Other Iowa cities that have speed or red light cameras are Council Bluffs, Sioux City, Muscatine, Cedar Rapids and Davenport.