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Iowa officials say some traffic cameras must come down at 10 of 34 locations statewide


DES MOINES, Iowa — Iowa transportation officials issued a report Tuesday ordering the removal of some traffic cameras operated by cities on state-supervised roadways.

The Iowa Department of Transportation released evaluations on speed and red-light cameras that six cities operate on state-controlled highways and interstates. DOT officials want to remove cameras at ten locations — out of 34 locations total throughout the state. Cameras at one of those targeted locations had already been deactivated due to construction.

This was the first oversight action since the DOT implemented rules last year dictating where and why cameras can be installed along state roads and requiring local jurisdictions to submit annual reports justifying camera placement.

Local agencies must show cameras are targeting "high-crash or high-risk locations." They have 30 days to comply with or appeal the DOT ruling.

Among the cameras targeted for removal was a set of speed cameras in Des Moines on I-235, an interstate highway that runs through the city. According to the state report, the location had a low crash rate before the cameras went up. In a news release, the department said they were considering all options.

Iowa is the only state in the nation that allows cameras to be permanently installed along interstate roads or highways managed by the state. The cameras generate millions in annual revenue for local governments.

Steve Gent, director of the Iowa Department of Transportation's office of traffic and safety, said the state goal was to ensure safety.

"The public has to believe the cameras are about safety. If they think it's about a money making issue, that's a terrible situation," Gent said.

But local officials have criticized the new oversight rules, saying the state is taking away local control.

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