City won't use speed cameras

Rick DeClue · Wednesday, July 17, 2013
The West Liberty City Council decided to delay the use of a temporary speed monitoring camera on Prairie Street at its July 2 meeting.

After Mayor Chad Thomas administered the oath of office to incoming Police Chief Lawrence McNaul, the council considered its options in dealing with extra traffic from the Highway 6 detour around bridge construction west of the city.

Observations by the Police Department and various council members since the detour went into effect the last week of June seemed to downplay the impact of the additional traffic.

West Liberty police and the State Highway Patrol have been checking speeds for the past several days with few problems.

Council members Robert Hartman, Ethan Anderson and Melody Russell all reported a near 50-50 sidedness in conversations with West Liberty citizens regarding the prospect of the speed camera. People are aware of detour traffic and understand the need for controlling speeds, the three said.

Thomas told the council that several area TV stations had come to town trying to stir up controversy about the possible camera monitoring. He said they found that most people in town understand the issues. Apparently there was no controversy to report, because the story never made it to broadcast.

A previous conversation about the cameras cited the need for police officers to focus on their other duties, especially during busy times of the day.

Anderson said that traffic actually seemed to slow down and “bunch up” at busy times. “It only takes one person doing the speed limit,“ he added.

Russell noted that some people dropped their objections to the cameras when they understood that the temporary program would not cost the city anything and the cameras were just to slow down traffic.

“This is not intended to be a money-maker for the city,” she said.

At that point, given the level of public awareness and the early results in monitoring the traffic changes, Thomas asked whether the council was simply pursuing a solution to a problem that was not there.

The draft ordinance to amend traffic guidelines was tabled. Both council and the police department will continue to monitor the situation.

Thomas explained that, if the council changes its mind, the camera implementation requires notice of 60-90 days to the contractor.

Russell asked whether additional planned signage could go forward.

As most of the signage represented warnings about the camera monitoring, City Manager Chris Ward said they will add large red flags highlighting existing speed limit signage. Thomas noted this can be done without any changes to the ordinance.

The bridge construction is expected to last up to 18 months, according to the Iowa Department of Transportation.
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