Cedar Rapids issued more than 4,000 tickets in four days after the I-380 speed cameras were reactivated

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Photo by Kurt Zenisek

Cedar Rapids issued more than 4,000 tickets in four days after it reactivated its I-380 speed cameras at the beginning of July, the Gazette reported on Wednesday. Between July 1-4, the southbound camera at the highway’s S-curve generated 2,272 tickets and its northbound counterpart produced 2,192.

The vast majority of tickets were for people driving 12 to 20 mph over the 55 mph speed limit.

Of course, not everyone speeding through Cedar Rapids on I-380 is subject to the speed cameras. Drivers of commercial big rigs and most government vehicles don’t receive tickets from the cameras, because the database used by Gatso USA, the Massachusetts-based company that installed and runs the cameras for the city, doesn’t include information on their license plates. One of several lawsuits brought against the city for its use of the cameras argued that those omissions in the database violated the rights of drivers to equal treatment under the law.

In January, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled that not ticketing big rigs and government vehicles constituted a minor discrepancy in traffic law enforcement and did not violate the rights of motorists who were ticketed.

Cedar Rapids first installed the speed cameras in 2010, but stopped using them for traffic enforcement in April 2017, after lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the automated enforcement system were filed. It was not until January that the Iowa Supreme Court ruled the cameras and ticketing system were legal.

The city reactivated the system in June, although that month it only issued warnings to speeders. It started issuing tickets again on July 1.

No city in Iowa has made more money from its speed cameras than Cedar Rapids. Between 2010 and 2016, Cedar Rapids’s traffic cameras — including red-light cameras at two intersections in the city — generated more than 500,000 tickets, resulting in more than $3 million a year in revenue for the city’s general fund.

The tickets also produced healthy profits for Gatso USA. The company originally collected 32 percent of the total revenue generated by the cameras, as well as other fees. But in 2016, its share of the revenue increased to 40 percent. Gatso USA earned $2.3 million in 2016, an increase from its total of $2.1 million in 2015.

More than 90 percent of the tickets generated by Cedar Rapids traffic cameras between 2010 and 2016 came from the cameras on I-380.

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