Red light cameras take effect in River Forest this week

Violators may be ticketed at Harlem intersections if in River Forest's jurisdiction

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By Devin Rose

Staff Reporter

Speedy drivers should watch out this week if they're traveling through the River Forest-controlled portions of two Harlem Avenue intersections.

The red light cameras approved by the village board more than a year ago are up and running as of Jan. 15, said River Forest Police Chief Greg Weiss. But whether or not a motorist zooming through an affected intersection will earn a citation depends on the direction of travel.

The camera installed at the intersection of Harlem and North avenues—which is the meeting point of River Forest, Oak Park, Chicago and Elmwood Park—affects all eastbound drivers on North Avenue. Weiss said it doesn't matter if the eastbound driver is going straight into Oak Park or turning left or right onto Harlem Avenue. If the driver goes through that light — which is facing west — when it's red in any of those four lanes, they fall under River Forest's jurisdiction.

There are sensors on the ground in all the lanes that get tripped when the streetlight turns red, Weiss said. The camera will capture about 15 seconds of video and the car's license plate number to document the potential violation. The video is then reviewed by Safe Speed, the vendor that River Forest entered into a two-year agreement with in October 2011.

If the vendor determines the vehicle is not in the wrong, like a funeral procession or a police car, they can dismiss the incident. But if they believe a violation occurred, Safe Speed sends the footage to River Forest to review. River Forest officials can then decide within 10 days whether to issue the $100 ticket, Weiss said.

The second camera affects southbound vehicles on Harlem Avenue at Lake Street. Drivers going straight in the two center lanes, turning left into Oak Park or right into River Forest while the light is red could get ticketed.

Weiss said those who would like to contest tickets they receive in the mail can go to an adjudication hearing at River Forest Village Hall.

The two-year term with Safe Speed begins when the first violation is issued, and there will be an option for River Forest to renew the agreement for one year. Safe Speed conducted a trial period after installation to make sure the sensors were synched with the traffic lights.

The cameras each cost $22,908 and will be covered by revenue from violations within the first year. Costs may be financed over 12 months with payment deducted in 12 equal installments from violation fine payments made to the village.

The contractor will get monthly fees from a combination of maintenance, repair and violation processing per system, and payment processing fees. Safe Speed will withhold a portion of the revenue to cover those fees, and the village will receive anything left over. If the system doesn't produce enough revenue in a given month, the village won't have to pay.

Reader Comments

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Barnet from Buffalo Grove  

Posted: September 23rd, 2014 10:41 PM

When the law is driven by money the law becomes corrupted.

Angry consumer from Oak Park  

Posted: July 19th, 2014 1:13 PM

I will plan my routes to avoid turning at that intersection. Long term, I'll look for alternatives to shopping/banking in the mall. The pendulum has swung too far. When I retire, it's not going to be in this community. I find the traffic fines/parking nightmares/taxes are just offensive at this point. Shouldn't the police focus be on crime here? The local government beast is driving people away. Then what happens?

Robert from Chicago  

Posted: July 19th, 2014 12:47 PM

In this economy, with many people out of work, the Village of River Forest should be taken to Court for charging too much money for these traffic violations !


Posted: January 22nd, 2013 1:42 PM

Wonder how long until someone vandalizes the camera so that it doesn't work? Seems like all you'd need is a hammer or some black spray paint.

Jean Caruso from Chicago  

Posted: January 20th, 2013 12:53 AM

The important question here is: how much is Safe Speed going to get per ticket? Also, why should a private company make money off a governmental body enforcing laws within its boundaries? The idea of installing cameras is not about public safety, it's about revenue.

Phil from OP from Oak Park  

Posted: January 18th, 2013 7:48 PM

Don't like em but watch the videos of most cars never stopping before the pedestrian way and almost or actually hitting people. When there is no common sense or decency this what you get

Uncommon Sense  

Posted: January 18th, 2013 4:03 PM

there have been several studies showing that redlight cameras actually increase the incidents of rear end crashes. however, increasing the yellow light time actually causes people to slow down and stop in time to not run the red light.

T.J. from Oak Park  

Posted: January 18th, 2013 3:38 PM

I got a "parking ticket" for no front license plate a few months ago. Only one problem, my car had two license plates on it. One in front and one in the back. Local gov't is out of control. The burden of proof was on me. Talk about a pain in the arse...

T.J. from Oak Park  

Posted: January 18th, 2013 3:34 PM

Often they send you a ticket even when you do come to a complete stop. Stop a little too far over the white line and you're gonna pay. Come just ever so shy of a complete stop and you're gonna pay. Now people are afraid to turn on red even when they legally can, casusing gridlock. This is a cash grab.

Done from Oak Park  

Posted: January 18th, 2013 11:40 AM

"They send you a ticket when you don't come to a complete stop before making a right turn on red." As well THEY should. They should send two - one for the violation and one for stupidity. Holy schniekies! Really? That's what the RED LIGHT is for. The dumbing down of our society continues.


Posted: January 18th, 2013 11:22 AM

Essentially, red light cameras turn the intersection into a NO TURN ON RED one. If that's the goal, simple signs will do. It will make pedestrian crossing safer. I for one no longer turn legally on red at all in these intersections due to lack of trust in the technology, much to the chagrin of the impatient motorists behind me.

June from Oak Park  

Posted: January 18th, 2013 11:15 AM

The problem is that they do not work. You can ask the residents in Elmwood Pk because there is a camera on Grand Ave & they are issuing tickets even when drivers come to a complete stop; so instead they wait for the light to turn green so they won't get a ticket & traffic stops. You can appeal the ticket but I've been told it's more aggravation than it's worth.

Brian from Oak Park  

Posted: January 18th, 2013 10:38 AM

To add onto what Muntz said about walk signs. Why is it that you don't get a walk sign at any Oak Park lights unless you push the button? I can't count the number of times confused pedestrians cross with uncertainty because they didn't notice the button. It's just not safe. The walk sign should always come up when the light turns green, So much for pedestrian friendly community.


Posted: January 18th, 2013 10:19 AM

This is a scam, plain and simple. I've had several occasions when I've received these in the surrounding areas. I've stopped counted to 20 and the ticket still appears in the mail. And when you contest it - certify an affidavit that you've complied with the law - the "ALJ" rejects the appeal. It's thievery. It's un-American. It's the current state of the United States.

T.J. from Oak Park  

Posted: January 17th, 2013 9:47 AM

The way cameras make most of the money is not about safety. They send you a ticket when you don't come to a complete stop before making a right turn on red. Most red light camera revenue is for right turns, not going through an intersecton. Total cash grab.

Rick from Oak Park  

Posted: January 17th, 2013 3:34 AM

This really is a privatization of traffic fines. What is the total cost per ticket that the Village will get? What is the total amount of the $100 that the private company is going to pocket? North Riverside put in a couple of these two tears ago and still OWES on them as revenue hasn't passed costs. Wait until Chicago gets the speed cameras - more privatization of traffic fines (basically selling off more assets). People will yell when they get a ticket for going 26mph at 10pm near a park

Pete Prokopowicz from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: January 16th, 2013 2:01 PM

What I really don't like is that the village will build this revenue into their budget. The fact that only violators have to pay it is not the issue. The problem is that the village will always want more violators, and will bring in more bounty hunters to find them. Keep the issue of safey separate from revenues.

stop at a red light  

Posted: January 16th, 2013 1:21 PM

If cars just stopped at the red light(s), then there would be no fine. Easy as that!

Eric Davis from Oak Park  

Posted: January 16th, 2013 12:14 PM

I get concerned when government outsources critical functions, in this case adjudication. The prior US administration did this with ill-managed mercenaries in Iraq. "If the vendor determines the vehicle is not in the wrong..." sounds on the face of it like another example. Government is elected and taxes are paid to hire staff to do certain functions. It would seem to me that determining - or releasing from - a finding of guilt is one of those things.


Posted: January 16th, 2013 10:46 AM

And funny how village boards will pursue money grabs such as this post-haste but there still is NO walk signal on the north side of South Blvd crossing Austin near a heavily-trafficked L stop. Public safety indeed.


Posted: January 16th, 2013 10:41 AM

This is no more than a money grab hidden behind the thin veil of public safety. And it also impacts OP residents without any revenue for OP.


Posted: January 16th, 2013 9:50 AM

This is just stupid. I love how these municipalities like to fleece their citizens under the guise of protecting them. How about a divider between the north and south lanes of Harlem at north (south side of the intersection) so that people don't cut across traffic to get to Dunkin Donuts or the gas station. Oh, wait, that might actually make things safer.

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