Government

Judge rejects request to issue traffic camera tickets during appeal

Cedar Rapids, Muscatine and Des Moines requested stay

(FILE PHOTO) Traffic travels past the speed camera northbound on Interstate 380 at J Avenue in Cedar Rapids on Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2016. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
(FILE PHOTO) Traffic travels past the speed camera northbound on Interstate 380 at J Avenue in Cedar Rapids on Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2016. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

Polk County Judge Scott D. Rosenberg has rejected a request by the cities of Cedar Rapids, Muscatine and Des Moines to continue issuing tickets from automated traffic cameras during an appeal of an order to remove the cameras, according to a Wednesday ruling.

The ruling on the request for a stay states the cities can leave the cameras in place, but can’t issue tickets.

“It would effectuate the court’s order in that no use of the cameras would occur and would maintain a status quo while the matter is on appeal to the Iowa Supreme Court,” Rosenberg wrote.

The court ruled good cause exists to not require the cameras be removed during the appeal process given the substantial cost of removal.

The Wednesday ruling is a follow up from Rosenberg’s April 25 ruling, which affirmed a March 2015 order by the Iowa Department of Transportation to remove or move several traffic cameras in Cedar Rapids, Muscatine and Des Moines. Rosenberg wrote state code empowers the agency with broad oversight of operations on interstates and primary highways in Iowa.

The Iowa DOT had resisted the request for a stay, but Steve Gent, director of traffic and safety, noted the agency did not oppose the cameras remaining in place, on or off, as long as no tickets are being issued.

Cedar Rapids stopped issuing tickets as of April 25, but has left the cameras on to collect data.

James Larew, an attorney based in Iowa City who has filed several class action lawsuits on behalf of motorists contending the camera programs are unconstitutional, applauded Wednesday’s ruling.

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“Our clients are pleased that the court has banned the issuance of citations following its ruling that the IDOT had lawfully ordered the cities to remove radar cameras from certain locations on primary and interstate highways more than two years ago,” Larew said in a statement. “Our clients do not understand how cities can issue citations based on evidence collected by equipment that the IDOT ordered to be removed.”

City officials did not respond to emails seeking comment on Wednesday.

l Comments: (319) 339-3177; brian.morelli@thegazette.com

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