Arizona lawmakers work on photo radar bill

| Tuesday, April 19, 2005

A gaggle of lawmakers in the Arizona Legislature is trying to work out differences on an effort to ban law enforcement from digitally patrolling freeways.

The House approved a bill April 11 after voting 27-21 to add a provision offered by Rep. Michele Reagan, R-Scottsdale, to exempt her hometown from the proposed ban. The exclusion would allow Scottsdale to move forward with a yearlong pilot study on how cameras affect collision rates and speed on Loop 101. The bill – minus Reagan’s change – passed the Senate in March.

“This isn’t that I support photo radar on the freeways,” Reagan told The Arizona Republic. “I support my city making that decision for our residents.”

Scottsdale would become the only city in the country to use cameras to monitor speeding and collisions.

If approved, the city would put cameras in each direction of travel on a 16-mile stretch of the freeway between 90th Street to the south and the Phoenix border to the west. Signs would be posted to warn drivers of the cameras.

Although that portion of freeway isn’t its deadliest segment, the newspaper reports the city wants to study how photo enforcement would affect the estimated 120,000 to 170,000 vehicles that pass through the area daily.

Another amendment was added to the bill in an effort to undermine Reagan’s proposal. Offered by Rep. Colette Rosati, R-Scottsdale, it would have allowed the Arizona Department of Public Safety to shift troopers from other parts of the state to step up patrols on Loop 101.

Rosati’s change passed with one vote to spare.

The bill’s original sponsors, Republicans Sen. Thayer Verschoor and Rep. Andy Biggs, both of Gilbert, are against the Scottsdale plan, saying municipalities shouldn’t be allowed to monitor state-controlled highways. They have appointed lawmakers from each chamber to reach an agreement on the bill – SB1164.

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