Elmwood Park Neighbors Petition to Remove Intersection Camera

| September 29, 2012

Hundreds rally behind the Elmwood Park Voice Party’s calls to remove the Red Speed camera.

Citing a lack of safety studies and conflicting and inaccurate data from the Village, the Elmwood Park Voice Party has gathered nearly 1,000 signatures to have the Red Speed camera removed from the Grand and 76th Avenue intersection.

“Village officials have been unable to come forth with compelling statistics of increased traffic safety as a result of the cameras. Generating revenue, this is yet another instance of big brother government intrusion finding its way into the pockets of citizens in an effort to tax them in a more creative way. ,” stated Voice Party trustee nominee Philip Marcantelli.

Through a Freedom of Information request, the Elmwood Park Voice Party obtained data on 8,112 tickets issued since 2008 and found that nearly one in three tickets goes to an Elmwood Park resident. “In this economy,” Marcantelli explained, “we shouldn’t be issuing $100 tickets to neighbors coming from work, visiting the library or Civic Center, or frequenting Circle businesses, just to make a buck for the Village. We pay enough in taxes and high water bills. We are proponents of public safety first and foremost, however, several comprehensive studies report that red-light cameras increase accidents instead of preventing them. The cause of this increase in accidents stems primarily from the fear of getting a ticket, which causes motorists to radically change their driving behavior. These driving behavior changes include rapid acceleration to slamming on the brake irregularly, both to avoid being caught by a red-light camera.   ”
The Voice Party has pledged to place speed bumps on the streets near our schools and parks, as well as offering several alternatives to red light cameras, such as improving signage. Larger signs should be placed at this intersection to clearly indicate that a full stop must be made before turning right on a red light.
This year, Elmwood Park residents will pay more than $15 million in property taxes and water bills. The Red Speed tickets bring in an additional $50,000 to $130,000 in revenue for the Village – a figure that is also in question. On August 14th, the Village responded to a Freedom of Information request with annual revenue figures from the camera. Two weeks later in a separate request, the Village responded with completely different revenue figures from the camera – a difference of nearly $70,000 in 2011 alone.

The Village contends that the camera has been effective in changing behavior at the intersection, however, the truth is impossible to ascertain as no traffic study was done prior to installing the camera. In response to a Freedom of Information request, the Village supplied traffic studies for other tentatively proposed intersections, but could not produce a study for the only intersection that actually has the camera on 76th and Grand Avenue.
“Born in back-room deals and surrounded by large campaign contributions from Redspeed Camera to our local leaders, there is no proof that these cameras are effective for safety. Marcantelli continued, “People are signing the petition because they are tired of being nickel-and-dimed to death by local government. Many of our residents have stated that they now avoid going through the Circle in Elmwood Park when driving west on Grand Avenue as to avoid this camera all together. This isn’t what our local businesses need. Especially in these hard economic times, we encourage as many people as possible to frequent our local businesses. These cameras take money out of the peoples’ hands that ought to be kept in the real economy, not in the government economy.” We can’t force the Village to do anything; however, our water petition proved to be highly effective in at least freezing the water rates for one year and we hope to have a similar success with this petition.”

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