New York state lawmakers appear to have struck a deal on a bill that will allow New York City to extend its soon-to-expire speed camera program and keep the devices running 24 hours a day.
State Sen. Andrew Gounardes, D-Brooklyn, introduced legislation late Thursday that would allow the cameras in school zones to continue operating until July 1, 2025, a three-year reprieve for the program that was due to lapse in six weeks.
Gounardes first confirmed the agreement to the New York Post and Mayor Eric Adams later issued a statement touting the deal.
Extending the program was a major priority for Adams, who pointed to the cameras as a potentially life-saving tool aimed at improving traffic safety at a time of steadily increasing pedestrian deaths. He traveled to the state Capitol on Tuesday to push for his legislative agenda, including the extension.
“Make no mistake about it, this is a major victory for New Yorkers that will save lives and help stem the tide of traffic violence that has taken too many,” Adams said in a statement.
The state Legislature authorized the current speed-camera program in 2019. It allows the city to operate cameras in up to 750 school zones that use automated radar technology to catch speeders. The cameras issue $50 tickets to those traveling at least 10 miles per hour over the speed limit.
Under the 2019 law, the cameras can only operate from 6 am to 10 pm But under Gounardes’ bill, the cameras will be allowed to operate at all hours.
The new bill has not yet been introduced into the Assembly, but is expected to be sponsored by veteran Manhattan Assemblymember Deborah Glick, a Democrat. A spokesperson for Assembly Democrats couldn’t immediately be reached for comment late Thursday.
Gounardes, meanwhile, had been pushing for additional measures that would have bolstered the program.
The prior version of his bill would have boosted punishments for repeat offenses, suspending the registration of any vehicle that was the subject of five speed-camera tickets in two years. But the bill introduced Thursday night stripped those provisions out, opting instead for the simpler three-year extension.
State lawmakers are scheduled to end their annual legislative session on June 2, meaning the bill would likely have to be approved before then to avoid letting the speed cameras expire.
Despite the emerging agreement in Albany, it’s not quite a done deal.
Now, it will be up to the New York City Council to approve what’s known as a home rule message – essentially a request for Albany to pass a bill affecting the city – before state lawmakers put the bill to a vote.
The way the bill is currently constructed, the state Legislature will likely have to wait for the Council to approve the message before taking up the measure. In his statement, Adams said he will next turn his attention to city lawmakers.
“I now look forward to working with our partners in the City Council to deliver safer streets and a safer city for New Yorkers,” he said.