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Two Speed Cameras Slap North Side Motorists With $1.17 Million in Fines

By  Benjamin Woodard and Tanveer Ali | March 19, 2015 5:27am 

 Workers with American Traffic Solutions install a speed camera in 2012 on Western Avenue near Warren Park.
Workers with American Traffic Solutions install a speed camera in 2012 on Western Avenue near Warren Park.
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DNAinfo/Benjamin Woodard

EDGEWATER — A pair of controversial speed cameras along a common North Side commute have dished out $1.17 million in fines since they've been installed, data shows.

The cameras, at Senn Park (5885 N. Ridge Ave.) and Warren Park (6523 N. Western Ave.), were installed by the city and issue $35 tickets to those caught going 6 to 10 mph over the posted limit, and $100 for faster than that. First-time offenders get a warning.

From Dec. 24, 2013 — when the Warren Park camera went online — to 9:42 a.m. on Feb. 10, the cameras have issued 33,003 violations, according to data obtained by a Freedom of Information Act request.

The Senn Park camera came online on May 1, 2014, nabbing its first speeder about 6:30 a.m. that day.

In all, 19,219 warnings, 3,241 violations for speeding 6-10 mph and 10,543 violations for speeding more than 11 mph were issued.

While some residents and Ald. Harry Osterman (48th) said they hoped the cameras would slow speedy drivers, some motorists who have received tickets from the two cameras say it's a cash-grab by the city.

"I don’t think it deters anybody. I think a lot of people don’t even notice it's there," said Evanston resident Michele Colledge, 40, who got a warning about six weeks ago while taking her daughter to a birthday party.

Colledge said the more in-your-face signs that display a car's current speed would work better to grab a driver's attention and get them to slow down.

Driver Ryan Jackson, 41, of the South Shore, said he drives past the camera at Senn Park on his way to work a second shift at the S&C Electric Company.

In October, he was issued a ticket. He said he never received it in the mail, however, and the $100 fine ballooned to $788 after fees and court costs. Now a collection agency is garnishing his paychecks.

"It's not like it stops people from speeding," Jackson said. "They just issue the ticket and collect the money."

He admitted, however, he now slows down when passing by Senn Park.

Some interesting trends emerged from the data:

• The speed cameras are on 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. Based on the data, people tend to speed more in the mornings than other parts of the day. The most popular hour for speeding is 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. (There were 2,920 violations issued between both locations during those times since December 2013).

• The hour people were caught speeding the least was between 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. Only 1,012 violations were issued during that period. At Senn Park, where afternoon gridlock stymies lead-footed motorists, the tickets were the lowest at that time.

• Looking at just the Warren Park data, spring brought out the speedsters. The number of violations in March 2014 jumped to 2,257, more than double the violations issued the month before. Speeding peaked at 2,533 violations.

The city has installed 50 speed cameras citywide.

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