The Illinois Senate on Wednesday approved legislation that would allow Chicago to outfit its existing red light cameras with speed sensors at intersections near schools and parks.
Backed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and sponsored by Senate President John Cullerton, the proposal passed 32-24 and now moves to the House.
In a statement, Emanuel's office called the vote a "victory for Chicago and Chicago's families."
"It's all about safety and protecting our children and providing safe zones and safe havens for our children," said Ald. Michelle Harris (8th).
The legislation would allow the cameras to be placed not only where there are existing red light cameras, but also up to one-eighth mile around a school or a park. With more than 700 schools and 500 parks, that could cover a lot of ground.
Indeed, a check of a map indicates that nearly half of the city would be eligible for the speed cameras.
Cameras around schools could function between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m., while cameras on streets near parks would operate an hour before parks open and an hour after they close. Drivers caught violating posted speed limits would face $100 tickets.
Although the bill has the backing of powerful Springfield lawmakers, its passage is not assured.
"I voted for these many years ago, and I promised myself I'll never vote for another one. It's a revenue maker," said Rep. Jim Durkin (R-Countryside).
Emanuel insists it's safety -- not money -- that's the impetus behind the cameras.
"I hope to get no revenue out of this," he said.
Maryland and Arizona are states that already use speed cameras for traffic enforcement.
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