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NYC speed camera program could get big expansion in 2019

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo is adding the speed camera program to the 2019 executive budget

Max Touhey

New York City lost—and then regained—speed cameras in school zones over the summer; now, the city is set to see the program expanded as part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 2019 executive budget. Cuomo’s office announced today that the speed camera program will be reinstated, and the number of cameras on city streets will be doubled—from 140 to 290—while also expanding the areas of coverage.

“There is indisputable evidence that speed cameras save lives, and as public servants we must use every available tool to protect our children,” Cuomo said in a statement.

The current speed cameras are the byproduct of a pilot program, enacted by Cuomo and implemented by New York City’s Department of Transportation in 2014, that brought the traffic-calming measure to 140 school zones across the city. Speed cameras have reduced the number of crashes in the city since they were implemented, and transit advocates have been for legislation allowing their use to be extended until 2022.

Instead, last summer—when the camera program was due to expire—any hope of the its extension through new legislation was quashed, as the Republican-controlled state Senate refused to vote on a bill that had passed the state Assembly. (Both the Senate and Assembly are now controlled by Democrats, which improves the chances of legislation getting through this time around.)

Finally, Cuomo, Mayor Bill de Blasio, and the City Council came to an agreement—reached via an executive order and multiple emergency meetings—that got the cameras turned back on.

Some transit advocates cheered—a spokesperson for Transportation Alternatives told the New York Post that Cuomo’s announcement was “welcome news”—but as City Council member Brad Lander pointed out, the proposal doesn’t go quite far enough in protecting New York City students.

Cuomo is expected to make a formal announcement in his State of the State speech, happening today in Albany at 2 p.m.