New speed cameras coming this year to Northwest Side
by BRIAN NADIG
Automated speed enforcement cameras will be installed later this year near Jefferson Park, 4822 N. Long Ave., Sauganash School, 6040 N. Kilpatrick Ave., Portage Park, 4100 N. Long Ave., and Merrimac Park, 6343 W. Irving Park Road.
The city’s first speed camera was installed earlier this summer near Gompers Park, 4222 W. Foster Ave., and a total of 50 are planned by the end of the year. The city recently released a list of the locations.
At each location, warnings will be issued for the first 30 days and then tickets will be issued, with fines of $35 for traveling 6 to 10 miles per hour over the speed limit and $100 for traveling 11 or more mph over the limit. The cameras are part of the city’s Children’s Safety Zone Program, and revenue generated from the speed cameras will go toward crossing guards, signs and other safety improvements near schools and parks.
It most instances, the posted speed limit will be 30 mph in a safety zone, but at Jefferson Park, plans call for the speed limit on Higgins Avenue on the north side of the park to be 25 mph, according to a traffic study for the project. A second camera will be installed on Lawrence Avenue on the south side of the park, and the speed limit there will be 30 mph.
"I oppose the installation of these cameras and was not consulted on their placement," Alderman John Arena (45th) wrote in his weekly newsletter. "Last year during hearings on the speed camera program, mayoral appointees said that aldermen would be consulted before camera locations were finalized, and no cameras would be installed without aldermanic approval. That commitment has not been honored."
Arena, who opposed the speed camera ordinance, also wrote that many of his constituents have contacted his office "to object to the use of this enforcement too without first exploring other, less intrusive tools." Arena plans to invite a representative of the city Department of Transportation to discuss the cameras at a community forum.
Arena’s chief of staff Owen Brugh said that the alderman is seeking the reason that the speed limit on Higgins is 25 mph instead of 30 mph. Under the program, signs will be posted warning drivers of the speed limit and of the camera, Brugh said. No other speed cameras are planned at this time for the 45th Ward.
At Merrimac Park, one camera will be installed on Irving Park Road and another on Narragansett Avenue, and at Portage Park the cameras will be installed on Central Avenue and on Irving Park Road, Alderman Timothy Cullerton (38th) said.
Cullerton said that while he does not object to the location of the cameras, he was not consulted on the matter and that he hopes two area schools, Saint Pascal, 6143 W. Irving Park Road, and Saint Robert Bellarmine, 6036 W. Eastwood Ave., are included in the next phase of camera installations.
There have been fatal accidents at the intersection of Eastwood and Austin avenues, where Saint Robert is located, Cullerton said. "They drive down Austin doing 50 miles per hour, no exaggeration," he said.
Alderman Margaret Laurino (39th) said that she hopes that the speed cameras at Sauganash School will be a strong deterrent. "I’d be delighted if we don’t receive fines," Laurino said. "I just want people to obey the speed limit."
Other planned camera locations include Horner Park, 2741 W. Montrose Ave., ICCI Academy, 6435 W. Belmont Ave., Lane Tech High School, 2501 W. Addison St., Parsons Park, 4701 W. Belmont Ave., Prosser Vocational High School, 2148 N. Long Ave., Senn Park, 5887 N. Ridge Ave., Saint Genevieve School, 4854 W. Montana St., and Welles Park, 2333 W. Sunnyside Ave.