DOT Highway Camera

After first amending Gov. M. Jodi Rell’s proposal to install speed cameras on I-95 near Old Lyme, the legislature’s Public Safety and Security Committee killed the bill Thursday afternoon.

But it looks like Rell isn’t ready to give up on the idea just yet.

“The smartest way to improve highway safety is to add troopers,” Rep. Jim Shapiro, D-Stamford, said. He said a trooper can pull someone over and take a drunk driver out of play on the roads. “This is something a camera can’t do,” Shapiro said.

The committee’s chairwoman, Senator Andrea Stillman, D-Waterford, said she was just as torn as her constituents seem to be about this bill, which would directly impact her district. Before amending the bill so it would only be able to take photos of license plates and not a driver’s face, Stillman called it an “emotional bill.” She said while she appreciates the attention the governor has given to the specific stretch of highway, she worries about the tools “we’re putting out there that infringe on people’s civil liberties.” In the end Stillman voted against the bill.

The final committee vote was 13 against and 9 in favor. One member was absent and didn’t vote.

In an emailed statement, Rell’s spokesman Chris Cooper said, “Governor Rell proposed the speed enforcement cameras as a pilot program because law enforcement officials believe, and results from other states demonstrate, that cameras do slow people down, prevent accidents and save lives. It is unfortunate that a proven technology was not even given a chance for a trial period in a very limited but dangerous stretch of I-95.”

It’s still possible Rell could ressurect the bill if she was able to get funding for it in the budget, however, part of Thursday’s discussion centered around cost.

Stillman said there is no fiscal note for the bill, so it’s unknown how much a one year pilot program may cost.

Rell may reveal more Friday when she visits the Police Department in Old Lyme to talk about her highway safety proposals.