Plans stall for speed cameras near Youngstown schools

YOUNGSTOWN — Even though the city finalized a deal May 19 to put unmanned speed cameras in school zones, no timeline for starting the program has been set.

Police Chief Carl Davis and Lt. Brian Welsh, head of the police department’s accident investigation and traffic unit, updated city council’s safety committee Thursday on the program.

“We don’t have a set date,” Welsh said. “It will be coming up gradually. Blue Line is running into supply chain issues to get equipment for the sites.”

Blue Line Solutions, a Chattanooga, Tenn., company, is to install speed cameras in school zones.

Work has been done to determine what is needed in each school zone, and studies are still needed at 11 schools in the city, Davis said.

Welsh had said when the contract was signed, the goal was have the program running by the fall.

When the cameras are installed, Blue Line will issue civil citations to those caught going at least 11 mph over the speed limit in school zones.

Asked if the cameras would be in use on weekends in school zones, Davis said a decision hasn’t been made.

Money collected from citations can only be used for school safety resources, such as improvements to school zones and crosswalks near those buildings, Miasek said.

If the money is used for anything else, the amount would be deducted from the Local Government Fund dollars the city receives from the state, Miasek said. It is receiving about $1.8 million this year, he said.

A study in April 2021 by Blue Line showed over a five-day period that 21.3 percent of motorists monitored in school zones traveled at least 11 mph over the speed limit.

The contract is for three years and extend for two-year periods at the option of the city.

The city would get 65 percent of the money collected from speed citations with Blue Line receiving the remaining 35 percent.

Speeders would face civil penalties of $100 for driving at least 11 mph over the speed limit, $125 for 12 to 19 mph over the limit and $150 for those driving at least 20 mph over the limit. They would not get points on their driving record for the civil citations.

The city’s police department used hand-held speed cameras, almost exclusively on Interstate 680 between South Avenue and Meridian Road, from August 2015 until November 2019.

It discontinued the program after the state Legislature passed a bill that reduced a municipality’s LGF by the amount it received from the hand-held cameras.

The city received about $2.2 million in speed-camera money in 2019 compared to about $1.7 million in LGF. The city ended the program because the speed-camera money was exclusively for police equipment purchases and to pay for officers on that duty, who did so on overtime at time and a half. LGF money goes into the city’s general fund.

There is an exemption in state law to the LGF deduction for cameras in school zones as long as it’s used for school safety resources.



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