Just as the city gets ready to start issuing tickets up to $100 for people caught by the first of Mayor Rahm Emanuel's automated speed cameras, his office announced Tuesday that controversial red light cameras will be removed from 18 intersections.
The city said it will take down 36 red light cameras from those intersections because in 2012 they had either no right-angle crashes or one just one such “T-bone” crash and a total crash rate of less than 1 percent. The “total crash rate” is calculated from state Transportation Department data by dividing the total number of crashes in a year by the average daily traffic counts at the intersection, according to a news release from Emanuel's office.
But don’t start pushing your luck on stale yellows at those corners just yet. The 36 cameras will be pulled out by Jan. 31, 2014, according to city spokesman Bill McCaffrey.
The move by the mayor to give drivers a good news announcement about the amount of electronic policing they face comes as the first handful of speed cameras are about to begin assessing actual fines for drivers caught going six miles per hour or more over the limit.
The first speed cameras went up at the end of August near Gompers Park on the Northwest Side, and others quickly followed on the West Side and South Side. Each speed camera installed in Chicago was to issue warnings to speeders for the first 30 days. After that, drivers exceeding the speed limit by 6 to 10 mph were to get $35 tickets in the mail. Those exceeding the limit by more than 10 mph were to get a $100 hit.
Though the 30-day warning period ended last week for the first of the speed cameras, McCaffrey said in an e-mail that those cameras have not yet begun issuing real tickets because the city wants to be sure “there has been ample time for all warnings issued during the first 30 days of a camera placement to be delivered and we are sure drivers have had a chance to be notified of potential violations.”
City Hall planned to have eight additional speed cameras installed by the end of September, and a total of 50 in place by the end of this year. Under state law, the city can install the cameras near up to 300 schools and parks in designated safety zones. A Tribune analysis showed they could cover nearly half the city.
This is the first time the city has removed red light cameras, according to McCaffrey. He did not explain how the city decided what the benchmark would be for removing the cameras, or whether the 18 intersections represent every intersection with red light cameras in the city that saw crash rates that low.
With the removal of the red light cameras, Chicago will have 348 cameras monitoring 172 intersections, according to the mayor’s office.
The 18 intersections where red-light cameras will be removed are:
• Osceola and Touhy Avenues
• Kedzie and Devon Avenues
• Harlem and Higgins Avenues
• Sheridan Road and Hollywood Avenue
• Austin and Belmont Avenues
• Cicero and Belmont Avenues
• Halsted and Belmont Avenues
• California and North Avenues
• Wells and North Avenues
• Kostner Avenue and Division Street
• Clark Street and Cermak Road
• California Avenue and 35th Street
• California Avenue and 47th Street
• Pulaski Road and 71st Street
• Wentworth Avenue and 65th Street
• Racine Avenue and 79th Street
• 79th Street and Cottage Grove Avenue
• Stony Island Avenue and 89th Street