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Loss of Red-Light Cameras a Safety Issue, Rahm Says

By Ted Cox | October 2, 2013 4:13pm
 Mayor Rahm Emanuel said red-light cameras had served their purpose and were no longer needed at 18 intersections.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel said red-light cameras had served their purpose and were no longer needed at 18 intersections.
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DNAinfo/Ted Cox

RIVER NORTH — Mayor Rahm Emanuel insisted Wednesday the shutdown of 18 red-light cameras was a safety issue and had nothing to do with the arrival of speed cameras as a corresponding revenue stream.

Emanuel said the decision was based on fresh accident data from the Illinois Department of Transportation.

"It worked effectively as a deterrent," he said of the cameras. The devices "were no longer needed from that perspective," he said.

The move also addressed criticism from an audit earlier this year by Inspector General Joseph Ferguson stating there was no evidence the cameras were installed with safety in mind and no set city policy to suggest as much.

A Chicago Department of Transportation spokesman said the Emanuel administration "has placed a renewed focus on transportation safety."

"Automated traffic enforcement, whether through red-light or speed cameras, is a proven tool to influence and change drivers' behavior," CDOT spokesman Peter Scales said.

Among the 18 cameras to be shut down by the Emanuel administration by the end of January were some of the top intersections for tickets from the first half of the year.

In a news conference at Carpenter's Hall trumpeting the Dealernews International Powersports Dealer Expo convention coming to McCormick Place starting next year, Emanuel said speed cameras were being installed "to protect our children in the same way, to act as a deterrent for people who are speeding."

Emanuel added, "I have not hid or been shy that we're going to be putting up speed cameras at schools and parks to actually also be a deterrent."

He declined to address fiscal policy, although his 2014 budget to be presented later this month will no doubt offer details.

Red-light cameras produced $72 million in revenue for the city last year, according to the inspector general's audit. Speed cameras were budgeted for $30 million in their rollout this year.