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Critics demand speed camera be moved on I-295 in DC

Critics demand speed camera be moved on I-295 in DC (ABC7)

Speed cameras are supposed to be about safety – that’s what police say. But one camera in the District is coming under fire as critics say it makes drivers less safe.

If you drive north on I-295 in DC, about a mile pass the Maryland line, you'll come to point where 55 mph becomes 50 mph. Here, you'll find a speed camera that some say is a safety hazard.

"That's unsafe. That's crazy," said motorist Al Vaziri after seeing a picture of the camera.

"It looks a little dangerous to me," added Rachelle Olinger, after she saw the same photograph.

The road the camera is on is designated a service lane of I-295. It's not supposed to carry normal traffic, but in just a few minutes on Monday afternoon, 7 On Your Side cameras captured plenty of cars on it.

That prompted John Townsend of AAA Mid-Atlantic to call for it to be moved.

"This is not only a speed trap, it is a dangerous camera location that violates every principle of traffic safety,” said Townsend.

The camera happens to be in one of the District's most profitable areas, which ticketed drivers for $7.1 million last year, but it wasn't always on the road.

A 2014 photo from a DDOT traffic study shows the camera in front of a concrete barrier. The Metropolitan Police Department tells the I-Team it was moved about a year ago to protect camera techs.

"We want to make it the safest, not only for our safety techs, but also for the motorists traveling,” said MPD spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. "The decision to move it back to the original place is something we are contemplating at this time."

Another problem with the camera is that it’s really big. At seven to eight feet tall, Townsend says it creates the added problem of blocking the view of traffic that is merging back onto I-295 from the access road.

"If this is really about traffic safety, it should be in a safe location," concluded Townsend. "It's only a matter of time before that camera is hit."

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