Speed cameras to monitor I-95 work zone and issue fines

Vehicles arrive at the Delaware toll plaza

File photo: Vehicles arrive at the Delaware toll plaza on I-95 in Newark, Del. (Pat Crowe II/AP)

Since highway construction started on I-95 through the city of Wilmington, there’s been a dramatic increase in crashes. In 2021, 421 crashes occurred in the four-mile section of highway where work is underway. That’s a 49% increase from 2019, according to DelDOT.

Nearly all those incidents involve a common factor: speed.

“One of the evergreen issues that we’ve continued to see is just the high rate of speed through this corridor,” said C.R. McLeod, DelDOT’s director of community relations. “We’ve continuously seen traffic speeds exceeding 70 miles per hour in this 45 mile per hour speed limit.”

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The lane restrictions in the work zone leave no room for state police to safely pull over speeders in an effort to get other drivers to reduce their speeds. So, the state’s turning to speed cameras instead.

“This is the first time we’ll be using speed cameras in Delaware,” McLeod said. “These are large gray cylinders that can be moved strategically around the work zone. And there is a camera mounted in this unit that will both check radar for the speed of the vehicle that’s traveling by it, and then if it is exceeding that posted speed limit, it will take a picture of that and create the violation.”

State police will evaluate each violation and issue a ticket if it’s valid. The program works similarly to the red light camera program used in Wilmington and elsewhere in the state, with similar provisions for appealing a ticket. The violations are only civil penalties and will not add points to a driver’s license.

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The cameras will be turned on Monday, Jan. 17. For the first month, only warnings will be issued. After that, tickets will start at $20, and a dollar-per-mile driven over the speed limit will be added to that.

For example, a driver caught going 13 miles over the 45 mph speed limit in the work zone would be fined $20 plus an additional $13. The total fine would cost $74.50 when adding in other fees charged under state law.

Last June, lawmakers gave one-time authority for speed cameras to be used just in the I-95 work zone and only until the project is completed. After that, DelDOT will report back to the General Assembly about how it worked. The project is scheduled to be completed in February 2023.

“We basically need to put a report together summarizing the entirety of the program, how many violations were issued, were there any problems, things like that, before we really consider expanding this to either just other work zones around the state, or using it more broadly,” McLeod said.

State lawmakers would need to pass legislation to expand the program after the construction project is finished.

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