Rahm Again Softens Speed Camera Proposal

Ahead of a committee vote on the installation of speed cameras near hundreds of Chicago parks and schools, Mayor Rahm Emanuel tweaked the proposal a little more.

The City Council’s Committee on Pedestrian and Traffic Safety is expected to vote on whether the city should retrofit red-light cameras with speed sensors per a bill signed by Gov. Pat Quinn in February.

Emanuel stands by the proposed ordinance as a way to protect kids from speeders in areas where children play and go to school. Opponents of the idea say the plan is a revenue-grab for the city.

Last month the mayor amended the proposal, softening some provisions of the ordinance based on input from city council members. Now he's toning down fines and camera numbers again.

Emanuel already established speeding drivers will only get warnings during the first 30 days after a camera is installed in a safety zone. On Wednesday the mayor said fines will climb from $35 (instead of the original $50) for cars traveling 6-10 miles over the posted limit in the safety zone to $100 for cars traveling 11 miles or more over the limit.

He'll also cap the number of cameras in a given area.

The state law signed by Quinn originally called for the retrofit of 79 red light cameras, but Emanuel has said he wants to see about 360 cameras. That's a portion of the 1,800 spots eligible. He denies it's a smokescreen to raise more money, though.

"This is about making sure people abide by the law," he said.

Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd) told the Chicago Sun-Times he questions the need for the cameras following the installation of 10,000 speed humps in Chicago since 2005. 

Chicago Department of Transportation spokesman Peter Scales told the paper speed bumps and traffic circles help reduce speed, but they aren't practical for all areas that would be covered by speed cameras.

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