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Speed Cameras Arrive in McKinley Park, Coming Soon to Bridgeport

By Casey Cora | September 4, 2013 6:58am
 Transportation officials say the new speed cameras will be activated later this week along Pershing Road.
McKinley Park Speed Cameras
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MCKINLEY PARK — Slow down or pay up.

Two of the city’s 50 new speed cameras are coming soon to Bridgeport and McKinley Park.

First up is the McKinley Park camera, already installed in the 2100 block of West Pershing Road. A Chicago Department of Public Transportation spokesman said the devices would be working by the end of the week.

A few signs around the park let motorists know they’ll be entering a so-called “safe zone,” yet driver after driver at the intersection of Damen Avenue and Pershing Road said they had no idea their speeds were being recorded.

While some residents strolling through the park called the devices a cash grab, a handful of parents from the just-opened Concept Horizon Science Academy charter school — located right along the speed zone ­ — said they support the measure.

“We need it, actually. Parents have to cross the street to get our kids, and then we have to cross the street again with our kids,” said Grace Martinez, who was toting her 5-year-old kindergartner.

Another camera will be placed along Halsted Street outside Bridgeport’s McGuane Park before the end of the year, although it’s unclear exactly where the cameras will be placed — either along Halsted Street or a stretch of 29th Street between Halsted and Poplar Avenue.

Aldermen George Cardenas (12th) and James Balcer (11th) both voted to approve the installation of cameras in their wards.

A spokeswoman for Cardenas said the alderman “knows the community doesn’t like the speed cameras, but they’re kind of a necessary thing to help ensure child safety and balance the budget.”

During the April 2012 hearing at which the City Council approved the speed cameras, Balcer said that he was struck by a car in 1958 and almost killed. He said the cameras would boost safety for kids, the elderly and disabled, according to a Tribune story.

As with all of the new speed camera "safe zones," the areas will have “extensive signage” announcing that cameras are monitoring a motorist’s speed.

Speed cameras at parks will enforce a daily 30-mph speed limit from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Those near schools will enforce a 20-mph speed limit from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays, and children will have to be seen in the photograph of the speeding car in order for the driver to be ticketed. Otherwise, a 30-mph speed limit will be enforced until 7 p.m.

Drivers will get a 30-day grace period after the cameras start working before being ticketed for speeding.

Aside from the monthlong grace period, drivers will receive one warning ticket the first time they are caught speeding in a designated safe zone.

Drivers can expect a $35 ticket if they are caught driving 6 to 10 mph faster than the speed limit and a $100 ticket if they are driving more than 11 miles per hour over the limit.

As the first day of school at Horizon let out on Tuesday, dozens of children poured out of the building and into their parents' arms. Many were led across busy Pershing Road by a crossing guard.

“As a parent, I’d say [the cameras] discourage people from speeding,” said Ariana Astorga, 27. “But as a driver, I really don’t appreciate it."

DNAinfo.com Chicago has compiled a complete map of where the 50 speed cameras will be installed.