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CHICAGO (CBS) – Speeders beware: you get one more warning before speed cameras at Gompers Park on the Northwest Side start issuing tickets for $35 to $100. It won’t be long before cameras at three other parks start issuing tickets, either.
Since late August those cameras have been issuing warnings to anyone caught driving 6 miles per hour over the speed limit or faster.
Starting at 6 a.m. Wednesday, drivers will get only one warning if one of the cameras catches them speeding. After that, it’s a ticket.
The first tickets, however, will be sent only to those driving 10 mph over the limit, or faster. The city will gradually lower the ticket threshold, and eventually ticket anyone going 6 mph over the limit, or faster. Fines for going 6 to 10 mph over the limit would be $35. Fines for going 11 mph over the limit or faster would be $100.
Gompers Park has two cameras – one on Foster Avenue, and one on Pulaski Road – and now also has two speed-indicator signs showing drivers how fast they are going.
The speed cameras will only operate when the park is open – from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily.
Speed cameras at three other locations – Garfield, Marquette, and McKinley Parks – will soon follow in issuing tickets to drivers, after completing 30-day warning-only periods that began in late August and early September.
The city also plans to expand the speed camera to a total of 50 locations, and 100 cameras, by the end of the year.
The city has said the cameras will be placed only at so-called “Children’s Safety Zones” within 1/8 mile of parks or schools.
Cameras placed at parks would operate only when the parks are open. Cameras placed at schools would operate from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on school days.
The speed limit near parks is 30 mph. Near schools, the speed limit is 20 mph from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., when children are present; and 30 mph from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., or when no children are present.
Chicago Department of Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein disagreed with those who think the city’s only trying to raise money with the cameras.
“This idea that speeding is not breaking the law is silly,” he said.
Klein said, in other cities that have installed speed cameras, speeding has gone down dramatically.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel has said the speed cameras are all about improving traffic safety, and keeping kids safe near parks and schools, but based on the results of the warning-only periods at the four parks, the city could pull in a huge windfall.
Although the Emanuel administration has estimated $15 million in speed camera revenue for the rest of the year, the Chicago Tribune estimated the cameras already in place at four locations would have generated $13.8 million in tickets had they been issuing tickets instead of warnings – after catching more than 233,000 speeders in 45 days.
The speed camera ordinance allows for up to 300 cameras across the city, though the head of the Chicago Department of Transportation has said he doesn’t believe the city will ever reach that limit.