Chicagoans furious over new speed cameras

CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) - There’s yet another new speed camera for you to worry about on Chicago’s Southwest Side, and it's not getting a warm welcome.

Alderman George Cardenas says he told City Hall he didn't want the speed camera on Archer Avenue in his Ward, but they put it up anyway.

FOX 32's Dane Placko reports the city says it's about protecting children, but residents say it's about raising revenue.

It's called the "Children's Safety Zone Program,” and there’s a video on the city's website showing kids, parks and schools being protected from speeders by a network of automated speed cameras.

But on Monday, protesters at Chicago’s newest speed camera on Archer Avenue west of Ashland have another name for it: a naked money grab.

"There's no children here so they should abolish this sign because it's a ripoff and they just want to make some money,” said Alice Corona.

It sits in an industrial corridor, surrounded by auto repair and muffler shops. Even Alderman George Cardenas, who voted to approve the speed camera program in 2012, says this one is a scam.

"There's no reason for this camera to be here. None. There is no park anywhere nearby," said Alderman Cardnas.

Well, technically there is. However, you can't see it.

About 500 feet southeast of the camera, behind a row of buildings is Mulberry Park, a playlot that just recently got a $125,000 facelift.

The park district says the makeover is part of a larger program that has nothing to do with speed cameras.
FOX 32: Should aldermen have more prerogatives about where these things are placed in their wards?

"Absolutely. I think the community gives us that power when they elect us. We should have more prerogative and more say in these decisions that are made," Cardenas said.

A spokesman for the Chicago Department of Transportation, which oversees the speed camera program, says the camera was put in the location because traffic studies show consistent problems with speeding on this stretch of archer, which ranked in the top ten percent for accident rates.

The city says the program has been effective at getting drivers to slow down in areas near kids. But a FOX 32 investigation last year found many of the top revenue producing cameras in areas only remotely connected to parks and playlots, and in one case a dog park.

Residents protesting the new camera say they've had enough.

"Get out of my wallet already. We're being nickeled and dimed. It's the erosion of the middle class," said Robert Kubitz.

The city points out that new speed camera at Archer and Ashland will issue only warnings for the next 30 days, giving drivers a chance to get acclimated. But after that, anyone caught going faster than 40 miles an hour will get hit with a $100 ticket.

The city also turned on three other new speed cameras Monday, all of them near Keystone Park at 1754 N. Pulaski Road, 4053 W. North Avenue and 4042 W. North Avenue.

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