Nassau school-zone speed cameras make 2nd try at debut Tuesday

A speed limit sign is seen along Stewart A speed limit sign is seen along Stewart Avenue in Bethpage on Friday, Aug. 22, 2014. Photo Credit: Jeremy Bales

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Nassau County's school-zone speed cameras start operating again Tuesday as students head back to classes.

That means motorists again will be subject to $80 tickets each time they are caught on camera speeding past schools while classes or other student activities are underway.

An initial July rollout of the new traffic program was so flawed that County Executive Edward Mangano last month dismissed all 40,000 tickets issued after learning that nearly 10,000 were generated in error.

Irate drivers -- some of whom received as many as 11 tickets each -- had bombarded county officials with complaints. Some said they had no idea that school activities were underway when they drove past the six locations where cameras were operating: some said signs warning of the monitoring program were not posted until after they passed the cameras, and some said the warning signs could not be seen at all.

Nassau Democrats have proposed that the county increase the size of the signs and require them to be equipped with yellow flashing lights when cameras are operating.

Mangano spokesman Brian Nevin said the county plans to install flashing lights but the power sources and equipment still must be purchased. He said warning signs have been posted at all locations.

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He said cameras will begin operating at 20 sites Tuesday and Wednesday, depending on when school resumes, and five more will start on Sept. 8. On average, cameras will operate from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Eventually, the county expects to install 56 cameras that are expected to generate $25 million in fines annually. Suffolk County anticipates launching its program in 2015, officials have said.

Judge John Marks, executive director of Nassau's Traffic and Parking violations agency, made robocalls to county residents Thursday evening to tell them the cameras will be operating again.

Mangano referred questions to Marks, who said in a statement, "School is back, drive carefully and remember that Nassau County school zones are now photo-enforced."

Legis. Judy Jacobs (D-Woodbury), who co-sponsored the proposal to require more visible notification, said she doesn't believe Nassau has done enough.

"The signs are still inconspicuous and hard to find for the normal driver," she said. "This should be changed before the cameras roll again."

Jacobs said the program is supposed to be about public safety, not about generating revenue for a county facing a budget deficit.

"My only advice is that 'drivers beware.' The cameras will be operational," she added.

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