PORTAGE PARK — Lead-footed drivers should watch out — the speed camera near Portage Park can start issuing tickets to drivers whizzing up and down Irving Park Road Tuesday, Ald. Tim Cullerton (38th) said.
The camera between Linder and Long avenues has been issuing warnings to drivers for a month, and many drivers have already eased off the gas pedal.
"I really believe it will make it safer over there," said Cullerton, who lives a few blocks from Portage Park. "I've already seen a marked decrease in speeding. Most reasonable people slow down when they see the camera or its flash."
Most of the drivers nabbed by the camera have been traveling east after being stopped by the traffic light at Central Avenue, Cullerton said.
"They get the green light and go barreling down Irving Park Road and the camera flashes," Cullerton said. "Then all of the cars behind it slow down."
The camera on the south side of Portage Park is the first of four cameras that will be installed in the 38th Ward. Another camera will be installed on Central between Berteau Avenue and Irving Park on the west side of Portage Park, and two will also be installed near Merrimac Park near Irving Park and Naragansett Avenue in the Dunning neighborhood.
Cullerton said he welcomes the speed cameras — and said most of the residents in Portage Park and Dunning do, too.
"The vast majority of people I talk to are in favor of the cameras, especially people with kids," Cullerton said.
The stretch of Irving Park along Portage Park's south side is in the top 30 on the city's list of most dangerous stretches of roads, Cullerton said.
"You really take your life in your hands trying to cross Irving Park Road at Lindner Avenue," Cullerton said.
However, Ald. John Arena (45th) — Cullerton's neighbor to the north — has opposed the location of the cameras in his ward near Jefferson Memorial Park and said city officials should explore "less intrusive" ways to curb speeding.
Speed cameras began appearing near parks and schools in the fall, with the goal of adding 50 by the end of the year.
Drivers going between 6 and 10 mph over the speed limit will be fined $35, and vehicles traveling 11 or more mph over the limit will get a $100 ticket.
In November, the city announced it had seen speeding incidents drop by two-thirds in the first week that warnings were issued near four parks where speed cameras were posted.