A monthlong test of Chicago's new speed camera program shows the
city could collect some hundreds of millions of dollars from fines in
its first year, far more than the $40 million to $60 million originally projected by city transportation officials, reports the Chicago Tribune.
As part of a city law passed last year, speed enforcement cameras will be placed near schools and parks, with a total 50 locations having cameras installed by the end of the year.
According to the camera test conducted in December by two companies looking to win the city's contract,
93,000 speeders were recorded at just four locations. Those violations
during the one-month test alone would have brought in about $4.7 million
from ticket fines, the newspaper reported.
city officials are pushing back against that figure and say the program
will not rake in hundreds of millions of dollars for various reasons.
Some of the factors include motorists who will change the way they drive
once they know where the cameras are located. Also, a portion of
recorded violations cannot be enforced, including when an emergency
vehicle is caught speeding, a license plate is distorted or no child is visible in the recorded photo by a school. Additionally, other motorists who are
issued tickets may not pay their fines.
Meanwhile, some aldermen argue that the issue should be revisited after the test's findings, citing the original problem councilmen had with the plan when it was being considered last year — that the cameras are more of a ploy to generate city revenue than anything else.
"I guess this is just going to be a city for wealthy people, that's where we're headed," said Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th).
city is set to install the first automated speed cameras near four city
parks Monday and at eight other locations in September. The first locations to see the new cameras will be the West Side's Garfield Park, Gompers Park on the Northwest Side, the Southwest Side's Marquette Park, and Washington Park on the South Side.
Warnings will be given to motorists
caught speeding within the first month of a camera being installed.
Following the warning period, motorists who are recorded going at least
11 mph over the speed limit in a children's safety zone will be sent a $100
ticket, while a $35 ticket will be sent to those traveling 6
to 10 mph more than the speed limit.
ATS, an Arizona-based
company, will be tasked with installing and operating the cameras as
part of the five-year, $67 million contract it won with the city. As many as 300 cameras total can be installed in the designated zones as part of the city ordinance.