Legislative Update- April 12, 2024
Friday, April 12, 2024
by: Matt Musgrave

Section: Legislative Update

On Tuesday, April 9th Matt Musgrave of AGC/VT and Glen Morris of ADA Traffic Control, LTD testified in the House Committee on Transportation on bill S.184 which would allow VTRANS to use automated traffic control cameras in work zones with habitual speed incidents. Habitual speed incidents in work zones are a regular occurance based on observations of members in the field as well as law enforcement who under current spec cannot leave the work zone to stop a speeder.

The testimony from AGC/VT included the hard work the legislature and VTRANS have put in over the past years to get us to a point that only a few votes separate the industry from this necessary safety issue. We commended the legislature from taking the steps necessary to create quality legislation. It took five years starting with the mobilization of the flagger community at the state house after the death of one of their own James Alger who was struck and killed in New Haven. This led AGC/VT to start the discussion of increasing enforcement using automation in work zones which was met with fears of "big brother" which confounded some in this digital age where privacy certainly is fleeting. But, the concern led to a study which showed how other states were using the technology that not only didnt infringe on personal privacy but were successful programs. 

After the study there were still concerns raised particularly from law enforcement who may have seen automation as a challenge to their duties. Several from the police association testified that the technology was flawed and that it would create impractical burdens to the state. In response to this concern, the legislature directed VTRANS to create a pilot program deploying several units and reporting back. The pilot program was a complete success.

Here we are in 2024 and we have an opportunity because one of Vermonters top priorities for the legislature is public safety. With this push there were bills written in the House and Senate dealing with automated speed enforcement. S.184 did pass out of the Senate which would allow VTRANS to deploy speed cameras in work zones with habitual speed without flaggers with a warning at first but if a driver speeds again within a month following a warning there would be an $80 fine assessed. The Senate and House both took robust testimony in support of the bill with still some lingering opposition from law enforcement. One finding in particular from a representative of Connecticuts Agency of Transportation showed actual statistics that were clear that once the travelling public became aware of the cameras the speed reduced significantly. It also demonstrated that over 90% of those who received warnings never were ticketed showing the efficacy of the program.

Glen Morris then testified about what its like to be on a work zone and the perils that exist. His testimony was extremely powerful as the committee got to hear first hand of near misses and other challenges faced with an impatient travelling public. Glen talked about how work zones are set up and the specific direction they follow and supervision on the site. The committee asked a few questions of Glen with great answers.

We are only a few votes away from passing a bill to create more safety in work zones. Be prepared because we may need the help of members to contact their representatives in the state house if we run into opposition. Keep your eyes peeled for calls to action from AGC/VT staff. Hopefully we wont need it, but its best to be prepared.