Squadron: Traffic cameras are needed on Canal and West Sts.

 

By Julie Shapiro

Feature article in The Villager

The city will soon install 50 new red-light cameras, and state Senator Daniel Squadron wants as many as possible to target dangerous intersections in his district.

The state Legislature has the power to limit the number of red-light cameras the city can install, and in legislation Squadron co-sponsored, the Legislature just increased the limit from 100 to 150.

Squadron said Albany has stood in the way of adding red-light cameras for too long.

“Finally, this year, the Legislature said yes,” Squadron said. “And I’ve got to tell you, it couldn’t be a day too soon.”

Squadron announced the new cameras last Thursday at the intersection of Canal St. and Bowery, where two people have been killed and more than 40 injured since 2005. He wants the city to put cameras at that intersection, as well as at Essex and Delancey Sts. and along West St. south of Canal St., where 26-year-old Marilyn Feng was killed in February by a driver who was charged with D.W.I. and vehicular manslaughter.

The Department of Transportation will decide where the cameras go, and would not say which intersections currently have cameras placed to catch drivers going though red lights. Squadron said West St. already has at least one camera because a friend of his recently got a ticket.

Red-light cameras have generated $89 million for the city since 1994, D.O.T. said.

Paul Steely White, executive director of Transportation Alternatives, said the 50 new cameras are a start, but that New York City needs at least 1,000 cameras to cover even a fraction of its 12,000 intersections. Since 50 percent of the city’s traffic deaths and injuries are occurring at only 10 percent of its intersections, 1,000 cameras could make a big difference, White said. He said cameras reduce deaths and injuries by 40 percent.

Charles Komanoff, president emeritus of Transportation Alternatives, said the roadblock to getting more red-light cameras had been Rochester Assemblymember David Gantt, chairperson of the Assembly Transportation Committee. Camera advocates recently started pressuring Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver on the issue instead of Gantt, since the speaker has the power to override him, Komanoff said. Silver backed the camera law this year. Opponents feel the cameras are an invasion of privacy.

The 150 cameras will be in place at least until 2014, when the law sunsets.