Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s controversial speed cameras will get their first test next month in four locations as the city tries to determine whether the technology to catch speeding cars works.
No tickets will be issued to drivers caught going above the speed limit during the testing period, which will last from Dec. 3 to Jan. 3, according to a news release Wednesday from Office of Emergency Management and Communications.
The city will test mobile and permanent cameras at two North Side locations: Warren Park in the 6500 block of North Western Avenue, and Near North Montessori School in the 1400 block of West Division Street.
There will also be two test spots on the South Side: McKinley Park in the 2200 block of West Pershing Road, and Dulles Elementary School in the 6300 block of South King Drive.
Emanuel is counting on raising at least $20 million from tickets issued to motorist by speed cameras in 2013 to balance his budget.
But the push to get the system in place near schools and parks hit a snag this fall because of a decades-old opinion by the Illinois attorney general that says children must be “visibly present” before school zone speed limits can be enforced.
The bidding process for the lucrative camera contract also became mired in controversy after the Tribune reported in October that an official at Redflex Traffic Systems – the company that holds the contract to operate the city’s red light cameras and a bidder for the speed camera work – had paid for a luxury hotel stay for a Chicago Department of Transportation employee who oversaw the red light contract.
Emanuel disqualified Redflex from competing for the speed camera contract, and city Inspector General Joseph Ferguson has issued subpoenas to the companies that lost to Redflex in 2007 for the red light camera contract.
Emanuel has defended the speed camera plan against criticism that it’s simply a cash grab, saying he wants to try to protect children by setting up “safety zones” within one-eighth of a mile of schools and parks.
The ordinance adopted by the City Council last spring legalized the cameras in up to 300 areas in the city, which would allow the administration to cover nearly half of Chicago.
When the contract gets awarded and the cameras are officially in place – possibly in spring 2013 -- tickets for driving 6 to 10 mph over the limit in a speed camera zone will be $35. The fine for going 11 mph or more over the limit will be $100.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times