WASHINGTON — If you drive through the District of Columbia this summer, don’t be surprised if you see more traffic cameras on your commute.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser revealed during her annual budget proposal presentation that she plans to have crews install another 342 cameras around the District this summer.
D.C. already has roughly 140 cameras set up on its roads.
Bowser told the D.C. Council her idea is in response to a common community concern her office receives.
"What I hear most is that people are tired of reckless driving and people needlessly dying on our streets,” she said.
District Department of Transportation data shows 10 people have died on local roads so far this year, while another 75 people have suffered major injuries in traffic crashes.
Bowser’s office said the deployment of the new cameras will be based on where transportation crews record the most crashes and subsequent fatalities.
Bowser said the new cameras have already been approved and funded for by the Council. She added her latest budget proposal will provide the District Department of Motor Vehicles an additional $13 million to support the processing of new tickets around D.C.
In all, Bowser said she expects the camera program to generate roughly $580 million in revenue over four years.
But the mayor’s proposal generated questions from the District Council.
Councilmember Christina Henderson questioned how D.C. could expect to make so much money when so many people don’t pay in the first place.
“If Maryland and Virginia residents do not have to pay, how?" she said.
Despite reciprocity issues between the three jurisdictions, regarding District traffic tickets, Bowser said 70% of offenders ultimately pay their tickets.
She said the District will reassess the funding projections year-by-year.
Meanwhile, multiple councilmembers asked if revenue from the cameras would be transferred away from traffic safety projects.
They noted, in the past, that money has gone straight toward road funding.
However, the mayor’s team said it would like to see that revenue go instead toward balancing the overall budget, which would still invest money in capital improvements for road safety.
“We’re able to increase funding, for example streetscapes, by 50%, and do more on traffic safety and traffic calming,” said Jenny Reed, the District director of the Office of Budget & Performance Management.
The mayor said she also created a task force to look at how speed camera enforcement impacts different communities around DC. She said she hopes it will lead to more equitable enforcement in the long run.