Details released on cameras


A proposal to install red light cameras at the intersection of Foster Avenue and Northwest Highway and at Milwaukee and Central avenues would be part of a plan to improve traffic flow and safety within a two-block area that has five signalized intersections.

Details of the proposal were released at a June 14 community meeting which the city Department of Transportation held at the Copernicus Center, 5216 W. Lawrence Ave. The cameras would be installed for traffic traveling south on Central at Milwaukee, southeast on Milwaukee at Central, east on Foster at Northwest Highway and southeast on Northwest Highway at Foster.

Eight area residents and eight members of a group that opposes all red light cameras in the city attended the meeting, according transportation spokeswoman Susan Hofer.

There was a consensus among the residents that "something needs to be done" to reduce area congestion and to improve vehicle and pedestrian safety, but concerns were raised about the effectiveness of automated traffic enforcement cameras, Hofer said. The cameras would be removed if it were later determined that they were ineffective at those intersections if the department decides to proceed with the proposal, she said.

The project would include improved coordination of the area’s traffic signals. "There’ll be better flow," Hofer said. "So that if you are going the correct speed, it won’t be red light, red light, red light."

Also, newer traffic signals with left-turn arrow capability may be installed as part of the project. Currently, the green light for southbound Milwaukee traffic at Foster activates several seconds earlier than for northbound traffic, but there is no arrow instructing vehicles in the left-turn lane that they can proceed.

Red light cameras are intended to prevent side-angle and turning crashes that often cause the most serious injuries, according to the department. Yellow lights are being extended at camera intersections to help prevent rear-end crashes due to sudden braking.

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.