Gov. Pat Quinn has signed a bill to retrofit Chicago red-light cameras with speed sensors at intersections near schools and parks.
Monday was the deadline for Quinn to make a decision on the bill that saw heavy support from Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
According to local reports, Emanuel met with Quinn last week to privately lobby for the speed cams. But Quinn said Monday the move wasn't about politics, but rather to "make our state a better place."
The bill allows the city to use automatic speed enforcement cameras within one-eighth of a mile around schools from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. during school days and within one-eighth of a mile around parks from one hour prior to opening to one hour after closing. It takes effect July 1.
"I listened to the mayor and others, and the primary goal is safety," Quinn said at an unrelated Monday news conference.
Quinn said he and Emanuel talk often, and while the governor said no to the gambling bill, he agreed with the mayor about speed cams.
"I don't worry about politics," Quinn said.
Though the public has told Quinn they're overwhelmingly against the new cameras, Emanuel has argued the sensors are needed as safety devices to protect kids near schools and parks. In a statement released after the approval, Emanuel called today a good one for Chicago's children.
"Since day one as Mayor, my top priority has been to ensure that Chicago’s children can focus on their studies, not worry about their safety," Emanuel said. "I am grateful to Governor Quinn for supporting one more step in our comprehensive strategy to keep Chicago’s children safe."
While politicians claim the speed cameras are all about safety there is a debate igniting across the country that the devices are “the” new hot revenue generator for cash strapped cities. The Chicago Sun Times reports in the year 2000 there were only 25 cities with speed cameras, however ten years later nearly 550 cities have installed the devices.
Chicago’s Mike Brockway, known as the Parking Meter Geek, writes for TheExpiredMeter.com and said that when it comes to speed cameras, "it’s revenue first, safety second.”
Brockway analyzed the Chicago Department of Transportation’s own study of just seven intersections and determined the potential revenue from the speed cams.
“Based on the seven intersections they originally analyzed... it looks like those seven intersections alone would generate somewhere between $50 to 60 million per year, in the first year," he said.
In all, Brockway said the city could retrofit 79 intersections that qualify as being close to a school or park.