116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
MARION — The city of Marion may soon add an automated-traffic enforcement program in the city in an effort to stop speeders and red-light runners at “problem” intersections.
During the city council’s Tuesday night work session, Marion Police Chief Mike Kitsmiller presented the idea to the council with a representative from Sensys Gatso, the same company Cedar Rapids contracts with.
The council will vote Thursday night on directing city staff to draft an ordinance regulating the use of the automated cameras in the city. The council would have to vote three times on any ordinance before it would take effect.
“I think it’s a good program,” Kitsmiller told the council of Sensys Gatso. “I’m not looking to blanket the entire city with cameras, but there’s certain areas that could use them.”
Marion at this time has no speed or red light cameras
Kitsmiller listed the city’s problems intersections as:
- Highway 151 and Highway 13
- Highway 151 and Linn Aire Avenue
- Highway 151/10th Avenue and Eagleview Drive
- Highway 100 and East Post Road
- Highway 100 and Menards Lane
- Seventh Avenue and 31st Street
From 2015-21, 347 accidents have happened at those intersections, according to the Iowa Department of Transportation, with 46 of them caused by someone running a red light.
Additionally, the city placed traffic counters on Highway 100 — between Munier Road and 31st Street — between April 26 and May 3. Of the 67,709 vehicles traveling east, 95 percent were over the 55 mph speed limit. Of the 64,062 vehicles traveling west, 86 percent were over the speed limit.
Kitsmiller also is proposing the city buy a mobile speed camera that can be deployed to residential and commercial areas following citizen complaints about speeding vehicles.
In Cedar Rapids, the automated cameras have generated around $5 million a year in revenue from tickets, largely from the I-380 “S” curve. Under the current contract, Sensys Gatso receives $20 from each $75 speeding ticket and $22 from each $100 red light ticket.
Dorian Grubaugh, national sales director for Sensys Gatso who was at the council meeting, said the startup for the service is free.
“Our program is meant to come in and partner with a city on traffic services,” Grubaugh told the council. “All we do in our contracts is take a portion of the paid revenue that comes in.”
People receiving a ticket could pay online and have the option to appeal the ticket.
It is up to the city to decide who gets ticketed since the Marion Police Department would run the program. “We’re just administering it,” Grubaugh said.
Kitsmiller said he sought out the company and recommends the city pursue an ordinance. He said 58 percent of the speeding tickets now issued go to non-Marion residents.
“We just can’t have people (officers) at these spots 24 hours a day, and that’s what these cameras would do,” he told the council.
Council member Rene Gadelha voiced concerns about the program.
“To me, this is very big brother so I’m concerned,” she said. “I see the need for the red light camera … but a slippery slope comes in. I’d be really interested to see how our residents feel about this.”
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