City may add, remove local red light cameras


The city Department of Transportation is proposing to install four automated red-light cameras at the intersections of Foster-Milwaukee-Central avenues and Northwest Highway in Jefferson Park and remove cameras from the intersection of Peterson Avenue and Pulaski Road in Sauganash.

The department will hold a community meeting on the two Peterson-Pulaski cameras at 6:30 p.m. Monday, May 8, at the North Park Village Administration Hall, 5801 N. Pulaski Road. A meeting date on the Jefferson Park plan has not been set.

Within an approximate square-block area, Foster, Milwaukee, Central avenues and Northwest Highway cross each other.

"It’s kind of scary," department spokeswoman Susan Hofer said. She added that Milwaukee is significantly wider than the typical city street.

Adding to the confusion for motorists is that some of the intersections have a longer green light for one direction of traffic, making it difficult for motorists in the other direction to make a left turn. Drivers often complete their turn several seconds after the light has turned red.

Hofer said that under the red-light camera policy, motorists who get stuck in an intersection are not necessarily issued a ticket. "As long as they entered when the light is green, they’re okay," she said.

Traffic and other data related to the project will be available at the community meeting, Hofer said.

The cameras are intended to prevent side-angle and turning crashes which often cause the most serious injuries, Hofer said. In addition, those intersections where cameras are being installed will have the timing of yellow lights extended to help prevent rear-end crashes due to sudden braking, she said.

A study by the Northwestern University Transportation Center found that there was a 10-perent reduction in injury-causing accidents at intersections with cameras and a measurable spillover effect that improved safety at intersections without cameras.

The study recommended that the enforcement threshold for issuing tickets be increased from 0.1 seconds to 0.3 seconds after the light turns red. The study concluded that the change would maintain safety benefits while ensuring the program’s fairness.

The two cameras which are set for removal in Sauganash generated a total of about 3,000 tickets in 2015. The city’s average per camera was about 1,300, but at some intersections the cameras were not in use the entire year.

In 2015, the department sought to remove cameras at the Touhy-Osceola intersection in Edison Park, but they remained after residents said that they were needed to keep children safe as they walked to and from school. "We don’t arbitrarily do something without getting community input," Hofer said.