Roadside speed camera

PHOENIX — Cities and counties statewide could lose their ability to put photo radar on some roads simply to satisfy a Peoria lawmaker’s efforts to keep her constituents from being ticketed for speeding.

On a 5-1 vote Tuesday, the Senate Transportation Committee approved SB 1241 that would bar local governments from operating speed and red light cameras on any state highway. That includes not just freeways but any numbered road maintained by the state, even if it is a city street.

But Sen. Debbie Lesko, R-Peoria, conceded she has only one location in her sights: cameras operated by the city of El Mirage on Grand Avenue — officially U.S. 60 — at Primrose Street. And she is undisturbed by the fact that SB 1241 would kill speed cameras already operated by Star Valley on Arizona 260 and preclude future cameras on any other state roads.

What it all comes down to, said Lesko, is protecting her voters.

“It’s what my constituents have been asking me to do for a few years now,” she told Capitol Media Services, turning off those specific cameras.

“There are people in Sun City that are getting signatures,” Lesko said, asking that the cameras be removed.

And one her constituents, Teresa Sommers, turned out Tuesday to testify in favor of the bill.

Sommers said she has been ticketed for traveling with the flow, something she said she does to ensure she does not get rear-ended. Sommers told lawmakers she feels “persecuted.”

Lesko has been trying for years to force removal of the camera.

In 2013 Lesko crafted legislation that allows photo speed radar and red light cameras on state highways only if they first prove to the Department of Transportation that it is “necessary for the public safety of the state.” The same law requires communities that already have such cameras to show through engineering studies that they have had a positive impact on safety.

Since then most of the cameras have come down, with two notable exceptions: several along Arizona 260 through Star Valley and the ones on Grand Avenue.

Lesko’s legislation needs approval by the full Senate before going to the House.

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