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Archer Ave. Speed Cameras About Money - Not Safety, Alderman Says

By Casey Cora | September 9, 2014 2:34pm
 The new Archer Avenue speed camera is the source of much frustration for Southwest Side drivers.
The new Archer Avenue speed camera is the source of much frustration for Southwest Side drivers.
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DNAinfo/Casey Cora

MCKINLEY PARK — Drivers and pedestrians can't even see Mulberry Playlot Park from Archer Avenue, but that won't stop one of the city's newest speed cameras from pumping out tickets to motorists on the busy Southwest Side road.

Now, after mounting complaints from local drivers — and a widely shared Facebook video calling the cameras a cash-grabbing sham — Ald. George Cardenas (12th) is hoping to get the camera moved or eliminated.

Casey Cora tried to interview some pedestrians for their reaction, but couldn't find any:

"There's no reason why the camera should be there. It's a stretch to call [Mulberry] a park. You know the reason behind it's nothing more than a money maker ... look, there's a need for cameras, no doubt, where people's safety is in danger, but in this case you couldn't make the argument in any sensible manner," Cardenas told DNAinfo Chicago.

Watch the Facebook video here:

 

The city began installing the speed cameras outside schools and parks last year, ostensibly in an effort to prevent pedestrian accidents in what the city calls "children's safety zones." After a 30-day grace period that begins when the cameras are installed, drivers begin facing fines of $35-$100 for breaking the posted speed limit.

There are now about 150 cameras scattered throughout Chicago at roughly 70 locations, where the city said speeding tickets were dramatically decreasing.

But the location of the Archer Avenue camera, which residents say unexpectedly started issuing warning tickets Friday, and its proximity to the tiny triangular park, has drivers calling the new camera an outrageous "theft."

"You can plainly see people are going to go more than 25 miles per hour over here because there is no park. The city is stealing our money," says Lupe Castillo on her Facebook video, in which she strolls down Archer Avenue in search of the park, a school or anything that would necessitate a "safety zone."

Posted on Monday, it's already been shared nearly 2,500 times.Though the city's transportation department lists the park location as the 3200 block of South Archer Avenue, it's actually located about a block south of Archer.

In fact, the park is tucked away on Robinson Street, an access road typically used by semi-trucks as a shortcut to a Stevenson Expressway entrance ramp.

The camera is located about block away on busy Archer Avenue, snatching speeding motorists.

"Of course [my customers] are seeing the camera lights flash when they head into my shop. Most people already avoid the Pershing Avenue cameras and now I'm hearing about this one on Archer," said Joe Trutin, owner of the Video Strip rental store at 3307 S. Archer Ave.

"If the city is going to start putting these things everywhere, people are going to change their decisions about where they drive and where they shop," he said.

The city's transportation department did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

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