Bid to halt photo radar fails in Arizona

| 5/2/2005

An Arizona town’s effort to become the first city in the country to use cameras to monitor speeding and collisions is closer to reality after a bill designed to block the plan failed.

A measure offered by Sen. Thayer Verschoor, R-Gilbert, sought to ban Scottsdale and other cities or state agencies from digitally patrolling freeways unless approved by the Arizona Legislature.

Verschoor’s bill – SB1164 – failed in a 29-26 vote on April 28 before the full House.

In early April, the House approved a change to the bill that would have exempted Scottsdale from the proposed ban. However, lawmakers – appointed from each chamber to reach an agreement on the bill’s wording – deleted the change.

The bill’s supporters were against the exemption, saying municipalities shouldn’t be allowed to monitor state-controlled highways.

The effort’s demise will allow Scottsdale to continue working with the Arizona departments of Transportation and Public Safety to reach an agreement to install the cameras on a six-mile stretch of the Loop 101. Signs would be posted to warn drivers of the cameras.

Although that portion of the freeway isn’t its deadliest segment, The Arizona Republic 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.

But, the legislative effort isn’t completely dead. Verschoor said he is hoping to change some minds and put the bill back for consideration this week.

“Freeways and state-controlled highways, and most lawmakers who have stood up and talked about this said they don’t like photo radar and they don’t want to expand it,” Verschoor told the newspaper. “This wouldn’t disallow cities from coming back to the state to work out an agreement.”