Speed radars and billboards warning that Baltimore’s Interstate 83 is now enforced by speed cameras might have been taken as a light suggestion by hasty motorists.
Despite the signage, cars barreled through the Jones Falls Expressway at 12 mph or more over the speed limit nearly 84,000 times in 30 days, the Baltimore Department of Transportation said. After the camera went live April 14, motorists were given a 90-day grace period during which speeding citations that arrived in the mail did not include a financial penalty.
That mercy is coming to an end.
A $40 fine associated with a speeding citation starts July 13. Transportation officials expect motorists to slow down and treat enforcement seriously when the fines begin. Speed limits on the roughly 8-mile stretch of the Jones Falls Expressway of I-83 vary from 40 mph to 55 mph.
“We are confident the public is aware” of the cameras, Marly Cardona-Moz, a transportation department spokesperson, said in a statement.
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On average, the two cameras located at northbound and southbound where I-83 intersects with West 41st Street have flagged 20,983 speeding drivers each week based on how many tickets the department has mailed.
From the camera’s first month, April 14 to May 13, transportation officials mailed 83,932 citation warnings for speeding violations.
Still, the number of cars driving over the speed limit dropped significantly compared with a one-week test period in March 2020 when transportation crews discreetly clocked drivers’ speeds at the same location. During that time, 151,897 cars were recorded speeding — some at an astonishing rate.
City transportation crews posted speed signs, displayed speed radars and published notices about the location of the cameras to prepare for their implementation. Even so, the number of citations issued in the camera’s monthlong existence would have — if fully paid — netted more than $3.3 million for the city.
By state law, the money can only be spent on improvements for I-83.
About 55% of citations were identified from the camera on southbound I-83 at West 41st Street. About 44% of citations were recorded at the northbound location. Officials expect citations to drop as people slow down because they know the cameras are in place, officials said when the cameras were approved in 2021.
The Maryland General Assembly approved a six-month, $6.6 million contract to pay for the cameras with the goal of deterring reckless driving on the dangerously winding roadway. The expressway, which abruptly ends downtown at the intersection of President and Fayette streets, was the site of more than 2,200 car crashes from 2015 to 2019 — 50 of which caused severe injuries.