Red-light cameras to be removed at 18 Chicago intersections - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Red-light cameras to be removed at 18 Chicago intersections

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CHICAGO (Sun-Times Media Wire) -

Chicago motorists are getting some relief from video surveillance just when Mayor Rahm Emanuel's speed cameras around schools and parks are about to start churning out $35 and $100 tickets.

City Hall is removing 36 red-light cameras at 18 intersections where cameras have succeeded in reducing right-angle crashes caused by running red lights, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

That will leave Chicago with 348 red-light cameras at 172 intersections.

"Automated traffic enforcement, whether through red-light or speed cameras, is about changing drivers' behavior," Emanuel was quoted as saying in a press release.

"Cameras at these intersections are now showing a low level of crashes and dangerous angle crashes, which means an enhanced level of safety."

The 18 intersections where cameras are being removed either experienced no "right-angle crashes" or only one in 2012. They also have a "total crash rate" — calculated by dividing annual crashes by average daily traffic counts — of less than one percent, according to Illinois Department of Transportation statistics provided to the city last week.

The 18 intersections where red-light cameras will be removed are:

  • Osceola and Touhy
  • Kedzie and Devon
  • Harlem and Higgins
  • Sheridan and Hollywood
  • Austin and Belmont
  • Cicero and Belmont
  • Halsted and Belmont
  • California and North
  • Wells and North
  • Kostner and Division
  • Clark and Cermak
  • California and 35th
  • California and 47th Street
  • Pulaski and 71st
  • Wentworth and 65th
  • Racine and 79th
  • 79th Street and Cottage Grove
  • Stony Island and 89th

Cameras at all 18 designated intersections should be removed by Jan. 31, according to City Hall.

Earlier this year, Inspector General Joe Ferguson concluded there was no evidence to substantiate the city's claim that red-light cameras have either reduced accidents or are installed at the most dangerous intersections.

Under former Mayor Richard M. Daley, the Chicago Department of Transportation claimed to have chosen intersections with the highest number of "angle crashes" caused by red-light running to pump out $100 tickets that now generate $72 million in annual revenues.

But Ferguson said CDOT was unable to produce evidence that accident data was used in the selection of red-light camera locations or that CDOT continually evaluates accident data to relocate cameras to the most-dangerous spots.

In fact, in the decade since the program began, Ferguson noted that only 10 cameras at five intersections have been moved. Chicago has 384 red-light cameras at 190 intersections.

Red-light cameras were gradually installed at accident-prone Chicago intersections, beginning in 2003. The cameras pumped out a high of 791,111 tickets in 2009, before dropping in recent years to 763,419 in 2010, 662,046 in 2011 and 612,278 last year.

City Hall billed it as a safety measure, just as Emanuel is now touting speed cameras.

But with a $100 fine for every motorist who blows through a red light, Chicago's arsenal of red-light cameras quickly became a cash cow for the revenue-strapped city.

Emanuel has been trying to turn the page from the $2 million bribery scandal plaguing Chicago's decade-old red-light camera program. But, he can't manage to do it without at least some controversy.

Xerox State & Local Solutions, Inc., a selection committee's choice to replace scandal-scarred Redflex Traffic Solutions, lost its speed camera contract in Baltimore after equipment problems prompted thousands of tickets to be issued by mistake.

Emanuel dumped Arizona-based Redflex after the company's own investigation showed it paid for numerous trips for a former city official charged with overseeing the program and concealed that information from the city.

But, the Redflex contract has been extended twice to make certain the city can sever the relationship for good.

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