McNally bill seeks cameras at rest stops

YOUNGSTOWN — State Rep. Lauren McNally introduced legislation requiring the installation and maintenance of security camera systems by mid-2031 at the 85 rest stops over which the Ohio Department of Transportation has jurisdiction.

The cameras hopefully would serve as a deterrent to those committing crimes, including stolen vehicles, drug use, sex trafficking and thefts from cars, at those locations, said McNally, D-Youngstown.

“We want Ohio’s travelers and visitors to have a safe place to rest and take a break so they are refreshed and focused when they get back on the road,” she said. “Cameras are a cost-effective, public safety and crime deterrent tool that we must encourage the state to fully implement in these public spaces.”

There are no rest stops within ODOT’s jurisdiction in Mahoning, Trumbull or Columbiana counties. Most of the rest stops under ODOT jurisdiction are located in the least-populated counties in Ohio.

“Safety on our roads is vital,” McNally said. “Many people travel through our state. We want to make sure our residents are safe and those driving through don’t take advantage.”

McNally’s proposal is a two-sentence amendment in state law for ODOT.

The bill calls for the installation and maintenance of a system of security cameras at each ODOT rest area no later than June 30, 2031. The ODOT director shall consult with the director of public safety and the state’s attorney general to determine an appropriate schedule.

McNally said the date is an “arbitrary” date “as a goal. It allows us some time to execute this so it doesn’t go on for infinity.”

McNally’s bill is awaiting a House committee assignment.

Her bill has five co-sponsors — all Democrats. It also was cosponsored by Democrat Jessica Miranda, who recently resigned from the Ohio House to become Hamilton County auditor.

In May 2023, Gov. Mike DeWine announced the state would replace 33 rest areas by the end of 2026. The facilities would include native Ohio plants and landscaping, dog trails, Ohio music, rocking chairs and trails.

Work to two rest stops in Rootstown in Portage County on Interstate 76 was supposed to be finished last year, but have remained closed since early 2021 because the state terminated a deal with the contractor doing the work.

Security cameras are included as part of the plan to revitalize the 33 rest stops as the work is finished.

“But there are no plans for the other ones and no laws in place to maintain them,” McNally said.

The bill doesn’t include rest stops along the Ohio Turnpike, which are the jurisdiction of the turnpike commission.

McNally said that could be considered in the future.

Have an interesting story? Contact David Skolnick by email at dskolnick@vindy.com. Follow him on X, formerly Twitter, @dskolnick.


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