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City chooses first 12 locations for speed cams

The Chicago Department Transportatiannounced Friday ththey with beginstalling speed cameras dozen locations starting as early as next week. Chicago High

The Chicago Department of Transportation announced Friday that they with begin installing speed cameras at a dozen locations starting as early as next week. Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences at 3857 W. 111th St. will be one of the first locations to receive the speed cameras , Friday, August 9th, 2013, in Chicago. | Gary Middendorf/For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: September 11, 2013 6:09AM



Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration on Friday chose the first 12 locations for speed cameras near schools and parks and disclosed that up to 18 percent of motorists clocked were caught speeding during a two-month pilot program.

Speed cameras will be installed next week at Garfield Park, 100 N. Central Park Ave.; Gompers Park, 4222 W. Foster; Washington Park, 5531 S. King Drive; Marquette Park, 6743 S. Kedzie; Humboldt Park, 1440 N. Humboldt; Douglas Park, 1401 S. Sacramento, and Curie High School 4959 S. Archer.

They will also be installed at McKinley Park, 2210 W. Pershing; Jones High School, 606 S. State; Legion Park, 3100 W. Bryn Mawr; Abbott Park, 49 E. 95th St., and Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences, 3857 W. 111th Street.

The cameras at Garfield, Gompers, Washington and Marquette parks will be installed first.

The first dozen of the 50 cameras to be installed this year will start spewing out warning notices by the end of August. The warning period will continue for a month at each location. The first speeding violation after that for each motorist will also trigger a warning.

After that, speed cameras will start churning out $35 and $100 tickets. The lesser amount will apply to motorists caught going between 6 and 10 mph over the speed limit near schools and parks. The higher fine will apply to those caught going 11 mph over the speed limit.

Camera locations were chosen based on traffic, speeding and accident statistics. But the city was also required to meet the “geographic requirements” of the speed camera ordinance.

It required that the city be divided into six regions, with each having “no fewer than” 10 percent of the citywide total.

To win approval from a reluctant City Council, the mayor also agreed to cap the number of locations at 300 and reduced the lesser fine.

Emanuel also agreed to two-tiers of warnings and to roll back the hours cameras would operate around schools from 6 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., to 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Ald. Bob Fioretti (2nd) said he was “a little stunned” by the decision to install a speed camera near Jones High School.

“We’ve got traffic control signals on virtually every corner and, if we don’t have that, we have stop signs. Out of all the schools, it’s a ridiculous waste of money there,” Fioretti said.

“What’s the aim here? Obviously, they’re trying to generate revenue. But with all of these traffic-control devices, they can’t think of another way to calm traffic around a school? It seems to me to be a lack of planning.”

Last month, the Emanuel administration awarded a five-year, $67 million contract to Arizona-based American Traffic Solutions to install and operate a speed camera program that the mayor is counting on to bankroll a revised $15 million in children’s programs in his 2013 budget.

On Friday, City Hall released results of a two-month pilot program that culminated in the selection of ATS.

It showed that 51,701 of the 546,979 vehicles that, passed through two ATS test locations during enforcement hours were “potential speeding violations.”

The speeding rate rose to 18 percent at one location — Dulles Elementary School, 6300 S. King Blvd. — with a top speed of 58 mph in a 20 mph zone with a pedestrian present and the average violator going nine miles-an-hour too fast.

At Warren park, 6500 N. Western, 7 percent of motorists clocked were caught speeding with an average of 8 mph over a 30 mph speed limit and a top speed of 60 mph.

A rival vendor, Xerox recorded speeding rates of 8 percent and 9 percent respectively.

In a press release announcing the first of 50 speed cam locations this year, Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein said he expects the actual rate of ticketing to drop significantly.

“With extensive signage on the street, a robust system to give drivers only warning tickets during the first 30 days, in addition to one free warning the first time a motorists is eligible to receive an actual violations, we expect to reduce the amount of speeding substantially, even beyond what other cities that use automated enforcement have experienced,” Klein was quoted as saying.

He noted that Chicago experiences roughly 3,000 accidents-a-year involving motor vehicles and pedestrians, roughly 800 of them involving children.

“These pilot tests confirm that speeding is a problem and that it puts children in danger,” Klein said.

“Speed is also one of the biggest determinants in whether an accident results in a serious injury or fatality and reducing speeds to the posted limits will reduce injuries and save lives.”

Aldermen from across the city have complained that, like red-light cameras before them, speed cameras are more about raising sorely needed revenue than they are about saving lives.

Emanuel has categorically denied that. But, that didn’t stop the mayor from using $30 million in speed cam revenues to bankroll children’s programs this year, then cutting the figure in half when the ATS contract took longer than expected to negotiate and a $2 million bribery scandal involving the city’s red-light camera vendor slowed the process.

E-Mail: fspielman@suntimes.com

Twitter: @fspielman



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