ODOT: Don’t install speed camera equipment on interstates


By Samantha Phillips

sphillips@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

The Ohio Department of Transportation will continue to deny municipal permit requests to install speed camera equipment on state routes and interstates.

The department’s decision doesn’t affect the use of hand-held speed camera programs, so communities can still have photo enforcement programs on the highways.

An ODOT spokesperson said the department isn’t aware of any communities that affixed speed camera equipment to the highways before the ruling.

The department ordered municipalities in late July to take down speed camera equipment and signs from state-owned routes, but that directive was on hold until Wednesday to review feedback from local leaders and law directors.

“State law does permit the use of portable traffic speed enforcement cameras by law-enforcement agencies within their own jurisdictions, including on state routes and interstates,” a letter from ODOT District 4 Director John Picuri states.

ODOT will permit the signs at corporation lines, or the borders of cities and townships where a city or township limit sign already stands, “in an effort to help ensure these law enforcement actions are transparent to the public,” the letter states.

The Wednesday letter was sent to the Valley communities that had received the original orders: the cities of Youngstown and Girard and the townships of Liberty, Hubbard, Howland and Weathersfield.

The order and its review originated when Girard applied for a permit to have speed camera equipment attached on state Route 711, a spokesperson said.

Local officials are satisfied with the state department’s decision.

Cherry Poteet, law director for Liberty and Weathersfield townships, said, “We’re very pleased they have agreed with our legal analysis.”

Poteet said she provided ODOT with sections of state law to review after the orders were given. She said both townships have used only hand-held cameras.

Pat Ungaro, Liberty administrator, said the township will continue to use its photo enforcement program on highways as long as the state and Poteet allows. He noted that even if there weren’t speed cameras, drivers going too fast would be reprimanded by the state highway patrol.

Jeff Limbian, Youngstown law director, said he’s pleased with ODOT’s response, and the city will comply with its orders.

“We are glad they have modified their position and have agreed to continue letting us operate the way we have been,” he said.

James Melfi, Girard mayor, said the letter also allows Girard to continue its operations and lets police keep roads safe.

“We have the right to monitor traffic on the interstate and the interstate-type roads within our municipality. We followed that from the beginning,” he said.

Darlene St. George, Howland administrator, said the township’s law director has to review the letter before she makes any statement.

Hubbard applied for a permit to use speed cameras on the highways in the past, but its law director, Mark Finamore, has said the township decided not to pursue it.

Atty. Marc Dann, who is pursuing a class-action lawsuit against Girard for allegedly ticketing drivers erroneously for a month, said ODOT is requiring communities to be transparent, which is good for everybody.

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