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IDOT seeks dismissal of Sioux City traffic camera petition

IDOT seeks dismissal of Sioux City traffic camera petition

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Red light camera

Traffic passes a red-light camera at the Gordon Drive and Nebraska Street intersection in December. Lawyers for the state Department of Transportation have renewed efforts seeking the dismissal of a Sioux City lawsuit challenging the agency's automated cameras. 

SIOUX CITY | The city of Sioux City's claims pertaining to new state regulations governing automated traffic cameras are "outlandish," the Iowa Department of Transportation said in court documents filed recently.

The city's claims of how the new IDOT rules will affect the placement of its speed and red-light cameras amount to speculation and are not currently fit for court review, the IDOT said in its motion to dismiss the city's petition challenging the state regulations.

"Such further development of some of the more outlandish claims in Sioux City's petition is essential so the court can actually have something to review other than Sioux City's rampant speculation as to how the DOT will actually apply the new rules in the future," the IDOT said in its motion, filed Thursday in Woodbury County District Court.

No hearings have been scheduled.

The city filed a petition for judicial review March 7, saying that the new state regulations, which went into effect Feb. 12, should be thrown out because they are too broad and unconstitutional. The petition also called the rules "difficult, if not impossible to comply with regarding the placement of automated equipment."

The city's petition asked that a judge declare the rules null and void or refer them back to the Iowa Transportation Commission for further action.

The IDOT responded to the city's claims by saying the city cannot seek judicial review until it "has exhausted all adequate administrative remedies and is aggrieved or adversely affected by any final agency action."

Under the new policy, cities and other municipalities must submit crash data by May 1 to justify placement of cameras along state roads. The IDOT said Sioux City has not filed that information, and thus hasn't been adversely affected because the agency has not ruled on any camera locations.

If the IDOT were to order the removal of cameras, the city could appeal that decision. A ruling on that appeal would be the IDOT's final agency action, and only after that point will the city have exhausted all its options and be able to seek judicial review of the regulations, the IDOT's motion said.

Assistant city attorney Justin Vondrak could not be reached for comment Monday. He has said previously that the city will continue to compile crash data and comply with IDOT rules as they currently stand.

The IDOT implemented the rules after months of discussion. Agency officials said they wanted oversight on cameras placed on state roads to make sure they are being used to increase safety, not just generate ticket revenues. The rules do not apply to cameras placed on city-owned streets.

Sioux City currently has 11 red-light cameras, seven of them on state roads, at nine intersections and two speed cameras along Interstate 29. From July 1, 2012, to June 30, 2013, red-light cameras generated $536,000 in revenue for the city. The speed cameras brought in $4.5 million during that same time. The city recently had to make up a $4 million budget shortfall due to projected loss of revenue from the cameras.

South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard on Friday signed into law House Bill 1122, which says information about motorists available to law enforcement through mutual aid agreements cannot be shared for the collection of civil fines that result from traffic camera tickets.

South Dakota Sen. Dan Lederman, R-Dakota Dunes, was the prime sponsor of the Senate version of the bill. A Sioux City business owner, Lederman has said a major problem with traffic camera tickets is that they are mailed to the owner of the vehicle captured by the camera, not necessarily the driver allegedly caught speeding


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