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Chicago Chooses Speed Camera Vendor

By Mike Brockway | February 24, 2013 11:14am
 A technician installs an American Traffic Solutions speed camera in the 6500 block of north Western Ave. for pilot testing in November 2012.
A technician installs an American Traffic Solutions speed camera in the 6500 block of north Western Ave. for pilot testing in November 2012.
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CHICAGO — Chicago is one more step closer to having speed cameras on its streets as the city's Procurement Services Department announced its choice for a vendor late Friday.

According to Procurement Services Department spokesperson Bill McCaffrey, the city's evaluation committee, which included nine voting members from city departments and one technical adviser without a vote, unanimously recommended American Traffic Solutions to be that provider.

"This recommendation was made for a variety of reasons, including the performance of its camera system and technology, cost, the extent and depth of data that can be collected, and its user-friendly web site," said McCaffrey in a statement.

ATS spokesperson Charles Territo said his team had put a lot of work into the bid and was happy their company was chosen.

"We're excited to have an opportunity to partner with the City of Chicago on this important public safety initiative," said Territo.

The Arizona-based ATS is one of the nation's largest automated camera enforcement companies with over 300 U.S. customers including New York City, Philadelphia, Washington, DC, Seattle, Miami, Tampa, St. Louis, Kansas City and New Orleans according to Territo.

The city and ATS now have to negotiate the terms and sign a contract before speed enforcement cameras can start being installed at up to 300 designated safety zones near schools and parks.

"Implementation of the children’s safety zone camera program will begin once the contract has been finalized, the equipment and accompanying signs have been installed, and the Department of Transportation conducts its outreach campaign to educate pedestrians and motorists," said McCaffrey.

"We'll begin working with city immediately," said Territo when asked how long it will take to hammer out a contract.

Chicago Department of Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein had said last year the hope was to have speed cameras operational by the first quarter of 2013. The city's 2013 budget expects $30 million in speed camera enforcement revenue. Both goals seem less and less likely with a contract still pending.

Originally nine companies submitted bids for the lucrative, multi-million dollar contract back in September. The list was reduced to eight in October, when the city prohibited Redflex Traffic System from bidding after revelations of ethical improprieties involving the city's red light camera contract became public.

The city pared down the bidders to two finalists, asking both ATS and ACS/Xerox to participate in a pilot test of both companies' technology to assist the city in choosing the best vendor for the program. The pilot test ran for 30 days at four locations from December 3rd to January 3rd.

When further details about Redflex's ethical breaches were recently revealed, the news pushed Mayor Rahm Emanuel to bar the company from bidding on the city's new red-light camera contract. The current contract held by Redflex expires at the end of June. As the newly minted speed camera vendor for Chicago, ATS now becomes the front runner when the bidding begins on the new red light camera contract.

According to CDOT there will be a maximum of 300 speed camera locations, the maximum allowed by city law as the municipal code puts a cap of 20% of the 1500 “safety zones” identified by the city as being with 1/8th of a mile of a school or park.

Klein expects the city to install no more than 25 speed cameras this year.

Once speed cameras are installed at an intersection, warnings will be issued to drivers for the first 30 days. After that first month, drivers will be allowed one warning violation without financial penalty according to the municipal code. But after that, motorists caught by the camera systems driving between six and 10 mph will be hit with a $35 fine, but a $100 fine if a driver’s speed is over 11 mph.