The speed cameras that were installed on Interstate 83 to help reduce crashes on one of Baltimore’s busiest thruways aren’t up to speed just yet, officials said.
The city is still putting the pieces in place before activating the cameras and launching a 90-day grace period for drivers before issuing tickets, said Marly Cardona-Moz, spokeswoman for the Baltimore Department of Transportation. This includes installing signage, speed sensors and testing.
Two cameras will monitor drivers at various points along the roughly 8-mile stretch of the Jones Falls Expressway in Baltimore City.
“The installation of signage indicates we are getting closer to launch, and might contribute to speculation about the cameras being live,” Cardona-Moz said in an email, adding but that’s not true.
The transportation department will issue a public notice at least 24 hours in advance of when the warning period starts, Cardona-Moz said. An accompanying media campaign should help inform motorists, she said.
“Significant public outreach will occur during and after the warning period to ensure that motorists are aware of the program,” she said. “In the meantime, drivers should begin slowing down. We have one billboard up encouraging drivers to do so.”
The cameras originally were slated to be activated last month, starting a 90-day warning period during which motorists caught exceeding the speed limit would get warning notices in the mail.
“The notice clearly states that, following the warning period, citations will be issued,” Cardona-Moz said. “This will give motorists the opportunity to modify their driving behavior.”
Breaking News Alerts
After the warning period, drivers who go 12 mph over the speed limit will get $40 citations in the mail for each violation, the city said.
Speed limits on Baltimore’s I-83 vary from 40 mph to 55 mph as the roadway spills into downtown. Crash data in recent years show a quarter of vehicles drive at least 15 mph over the limit. The fastest car was clocked at 173 mph.
Last year, Baltimore’s Board of Estimates approved a $6.6 million contract extension to pay for the first six months of the cameras’ deployment.
While the goal is to get drivers to slow down, the cameras also will collect revenue. Funds will pay first for the cameras. The money then will be used to clean the road, remove graffiti and make repairs to the highway, and more.
The price of the cameras for the first six months is based on an estimate of 150,000 citations being issued per month. The city will reset how much it pays in monthly fees to vendor American Traffic Solutions based on the number of citations after six months.
Officials expect citations to drop as people slow down because they know the cameras are in place.
Baltimore Sun reporter Emily Opilo contributed to this article.