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Changes proposed for DC speed, red light cameras

A proposal from D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser that could lead to the more frequent moving of speed, red light and other photo enforcement cameras to different streets drew some skepticism at a hearing on Thursday.

Bowser’s proposal would shift oversight for automated traffic enforcement from the D.C. police to the District Department of Transportation.

“The deployment of cameras will be more nimble to reflect the nature of our traffic safety assessments and the work that we’re doing, and it’ll be one tool in a more holistic approach to traffic safety,” DDOT Director Jeff Marootian said.

The current program issues about a million tickets each year.

“We want to be able to deploy them in near-real time,” he told the D.C. Council’s Committee on Transportation and the Environment.

Committee Chair Mary Cheh, however, was skeptical the change would make a significant difference, and expressed concern people may be less likely to pay for a ticket in the mail from DDOT as opposed to one written up by the D.C. police.

“I still want to figure out what the problem is that would make this the solution,” Cheh said.

The shift would move $5.4 million in the budget to DDOT to continue the existing photo enforcement contract and oversight.

“I have yet to hear, when people are clamoring for a camera, that the solution to this is a transfer of this operation to you — it’s whether that, together with infrastructure changes or other kinds of changes will be made,” she said.

Marootian believes the shift would remove at least one step in consultation processes, so cameras could more quickly be moved into areas with urgent safety problems.

“It has been particularly effective in reducing fatalities and serious injuries,” Marootian said.

The program would be managed by a new “Vision Zero” office within DDOT, meant to focus on making roads safer.

“We want to see DDOT being able to perform these traffic safety operations as quickly as possible,” Marootian said.

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