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Controversial Archer Avenue Speed Camera Goes Live Wednesday

By Ed Komenda | December 22, 2015 2:26pm
 Protesters stood in the solidarity near 3200 S. Archer Ave., where the city activated a speed camera Monday.
Protesters stood in the solidarity near 3200 S. Archer Ave., where the city activated a speed camera Monday.
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DNAinfo/Ed Komenda

MCKINLEY PARK — A controversial speed camera recently activated in the neighborhood will begin ticketing motorists Wednesday.

Though the city turned on the camera at 3200 S. Archer Ave. in November, it issued only warnings for the first 30 days.

The city has pegged its speed camera campaign to keeping children safe at nearby playgrounds. Transportation bosses pitched the camera in McKinley Park as a tool to protect children playing at Mulberry Playlot Park.

But the camera isn’t very close to the park, according to camera opponents like Ald. George Cardenas (12th).

The city lists the camera at 3200 S. Archer Ave. — but it’s really about a block south of Archer on Robinson Street, an access road often used by semitrucks as a shortcut to the Stevenson Expressway.

During a protest to fight the camera in November, Cardenas called the policing device nothing more than a thinly-veiled money grab: “If it’s about safety, let’s talk about safety,” he said. “But that’s not the debate here. You’re telling me you’re putting it here because some people are going into the park? It’s a complete lie."

Despite the opposition, the camera will run from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. — while Mulberry Park is open.

Here’s how ticketing works:

The first time a driver gets caught speeding on camera, the city issues a warning. After that first warning, if a driver's recorded speeding 10 or more miles per hour over the limit, a ticket is issued.

The city’s speed camera ordinance says tickets start at $35.

By some accounts, the camera campaign — doling out fines up to $100 — has been successful at one thing: Bringing in big money.

A DNAinfo Chicago analysis published in May discovered more than $100,000 in speed camera fines were issued per day citywide. That translates to more than 2,900 tickets per day — or $58 million in speed camera fines citywide.

The city began planting the cameras outside schools and parks in 2013 as a way to curb pedestrian accidents in "children's safety zones."

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