DOT chief asks Albany to give up control of speed cameras in New York

As traffic violence in the city increases, Department of Transportation Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez is calling on Albany lawmakers to hand over control of the city’s red lights and speed cameras.

The DOT chief visited the site of the crash that killed a 21-year-old NYU student last week to punctuate the issue on Monday alongside Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine and the executive director of Transportation Alternatives, Danny Harris. Rodriguez said giving control of the city would allow law enforcement to reduce traffic deaths.

The state currently allows the city to monitor speed cameras that issue tickets in school zones, but they are only operational at night and on weekends. Rodriguez said that left several hours of each day unchecked and unaccounted for, meaning no liability for unsafe drivers.

“They should be running 24/7 and DOT should be in control of where we put these cameras,” Rodriguez said. “It should be a data-driven decision.”

The group was standing at the intersection of East Houston and 1st Avenue where, last week, Raife Milligan died while crossing the street on May 2, when he was allegedly killed by a drunk driver, according to the NYPD. This period has been particularly deadly for cyclists and pedestrians, which in part prompted the city to launch an advertising campaign earlier this month to discourage dangerous driving.

Harris, whose advocacy group advocates for safer streets, said transferring surveillance was urgent.

“Let me start by being very clear to our lawmakers in Albany that your inaction is killing us,” he said Monday. “Give us the speed cameras.”

State lawmakers told Gothamist that 273 people were killed on city streets last year.

Rodriguez said he would travel to Albany on Tuesday to lobby lawmakers to allow the city to expand its enforcement of speed cameras in the city.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul has expressed support for local control of automated camera enforcement in the past.

“I personally don’t want to decide where red light cameras go in school zones, I think cities should care about that,” Hochul said at a Regional Plan Association event last week. “We have enough to worry about.”

Mayor Eric Adams also pushed Albany to allow the city to control its own streets. He also announced more than $900 million in funding earlier this year to create new bus and bike lanes, and promised to redesign 1,000 intersections across the city.

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