Speed Cameras Coming to Chicago Next Month

From DNAChicago.com:

When Chicago debuts its speed camera enforcement program in the next few months, it will start out with 50 camera sites near schools and parks around the city.

But based on the total value of the contract, that number will probably grow to as many as 300.

The contract with Arizona-based American Traffic Solutions was finalized Monday and has a potential to pay ATS $67 million over five years. Based on that dollar amount and the payment terms in the contract, the city is poised to ultimately employ the maximum 300 speed camera locations allowed under the law.

While more than 1,500 “Children’s Safety Zones” — intersections within one-eighth of a mile from a school or park — were identified by the city, it’s only allowed to erect cameras at 20 percent of those locations.

The exact locations of the initial 50 cameras have not been finalized, the Chicago Department of Transportation said.

But ATS staff and contractors are now in Chicago and actively preparing for the camera installations, according to Charles Territo, a spokesman for ATS.

“Each of the sites require design, engineering, permitting and construction,” Territo said. “The installation of the camera won’t take much time at all. Within the next 30 days, we will begin putting in cameras.”

The Chicago Department of Transportation recently began a three-month public awareness campaign, which ends in late September. When the first cameras go live in August, there will be a 30-day warning period in which anyone caught speeding will be mailed warnings.

The city expects the first violations to go into the mail in September. All drivers will be given an initial warning violation if they are caught on camera speeding. Fines will begin with subsequent speed violations.

Fines of $35 will be issued for drivers going 6-10 miles per hour over the posted speed limit. They jump to $100 for those exceeding the speed limit by 11 mph or more. Enforcement around schools will be  from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays. Enforcement near parks will be from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week.

Originally, Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein said he hoped to start the program in the first quarter of 2013. City budget officials were counting on about $30 million in speed camera revenue to help with Chicago’s budget woes, but the lengthy contract negotiations forced the city to revise those estimates to just $15 million for this year.

“A delay of a few months was well worth ensuring a robust, thorough and competitive procurement process for residents and taxpayers,” city spokesman Bill McCaffrey said. “And although the  procurement process took a few months longer than expected, it was most important to complete a procurement process in which we can be confident as we enter this agreement for this next five years.”…
“You’re going to have to put them in places where you know there will be speed traps,” Walker said. “That’s the only way you can generate that level of revenue. Revenue is the only purpose for which [speed camera enforcement is] being done.”

The city said revenue from speed camera fines will be used to pay for children’s safety programs, including anti-violence programs, traffic safety improvements and hiring more crossing guards and police officers.