Tag Archives: CDOT

Official Accused In Redflex Scandal Wants Trial Moved To Vegas

A red light cameras stands watch at Damen & Division in Wicker ParkJohn Bills believes he can’t get a fair trial in Chicago.

So he wants to move it to Las Vegas.

That’s what lawyers for the former Chicago Department of Transportation official who initiated and oversaw the city’s red light camera program according to the Chicago Tribune.

Bills is accused of accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and gifts for allegedly making sure Redflex Traffic Systems won and retained the lucrative contract for the Chicago red light camera program.

In a court filing, Bills’ attorney Nishay Sanan wrote:

Sun-Times Profiles Chicago’s Resident Street Sign Expert

Steven J. Bahnsen hates bad street signs signs.

And while Bahnsen is arguably, the most knowledgeable expert on traffic signs in the entire state, he curiously doesn’t work for CDOT or IDOT.

Mayoral Candidates Call For End To City’s Red Light Cameras

Mayoral candidate Ald. Bob Fioretti (2nd) and Mark Wallace, director of Citizens to Abolish Red Light Cameras speak at a press conference at City Hall Monday. Photo credit: Ted Cox/DNA Info.

Mayoral candidate Ald. Bob Fioretti (2nd) and Mark Wallace, director of Citizens to Abolish Red Light Cameras speak at a press conference at City Hall Monday. Photo credit: Ted Cox/DNA Info.

In the wake of recent Chicago Tribune’s reporting on research showing a failure of Chicago’s red light cameras to improve traffic safety, two candidates for mayor have called for an end to the program.

The Tribune commissioned an academic study of crash data at Chicago red light camera locations which found that the city exaggerated the safety improvements from the cameras and while dangerous T-bone crashes did go down by 15%, rear-end crashes went up 22%–numbers which have caused the researchers to question if there is any traffic safety benefits from the program.

At City Hall Monday morning, Citizens to Abolish Red Light Cameras held a press conference to again call for an end to the program based on the Tribune report.

Mayoral candidate Ald. Bob Fioretti joined the group’s director Mark Wallace in condemning the camera program and said he would end the program by April 15th if he was elected mayor. He plans to introduce an ordinance to stop the program next month.

Tribune Study: Red Light Cameras Have Zero Impact On Safety

red_light_cameraNo effect.

None.

That’s the main finding from an extensive research study of Chicago’s red light camera system commissioned by the Chicago Tribune.

The Tribune teamed up with researchers from the Texas A&M University’s Zachry Department of Civil Engineering, who analyzed crash data at RLC intersections before and after the cameras were installed.

The city claims the cameras have reduced dangerous right angle crashes by 47%.

But the Tribune study refutes the city’s numbers saying their analysis shows only a 15% decrease in injury causing T-bone crashes, but a 22% increase in rear-end crashes that caused injuries. At best, the researchers numbers indicate red light cameras have provided no improvement in overall traffic safety or at worst a 5% increase in the number of crashes that cause injuries.

Red Light Camera Hearing by Council Committee Set For Tuesday

A Xerox contractor installs a new red light camera at the corner of Clark Street and Irving Park Road.

A Xerox contractor installs a new red light camera at the corner of Clark Street and Irving Park Road.

After months of scandal, controversy and questions about Chicago’s red light camera program’s integrity the City Council will hold a hearing on Chicago’s red light camera program next week.

Alderman Walter Burnett (27th), Chairman of the Committee on Pedestrian and Traffic Safety, says he invited Inspector General Joseph Ferguson to present his office’s recent findings and recommendations at a hearing Tuesday, October 28th at 3 p.m. at City Hall.

“We need to make sure everything is fair and decent for everyone,” said Burnett. “We definitely don’t want people running the red light but at the same time things need to be fair.”

Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd) says it’s about time. He and members of the council’s Progressive Caucus have tried to get hearings several times over the past two years of controversy.

“It’s years overdue,” says Waguespack. “With all the issues surrounding the cameras aldermen knew something has to change with this program. It’s been building up for so many years. We’ve been waiting for this a long time.”

Read more at DNA Info.

City Reopens Van Buren Bridge A Month Ahead Of Schedule

A historical photo of the Van Buren  Bridge from when it was first constructed in 1955. Photo credit: Chicago Public Works report from 1855.

A historical photo of the Van Buren Bridge from when it was first constructed in 1955. Photo credit: Chicago Public Works report from 1855.

A full month ahead of schedule, the 57-year old Van Buren Bridge reopened to traffic Thursday after undergoing a major rehabilitation.

Built in 1956, the bridge spans the Chicago river and connects downtown to the West Loop neighborhood, was given a new roadway deck with repaired girders, floor beams and lateral bracing according to the Chicago Department of Transportation.

“The Van Buren Bridge is an important piece of our infrastructure, and this reconstruction project will ensure this historic bridge can continue to serve residents as they travel to and from work for generations to come,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Tuesday while visiting the bridge. “I thank Chicagoans for their patience during the construction and congratulate the CDOT construction crews for a job well done, and a job completed ahead of schedule.”

Bag Man In Redflex Bribery Scandal Will Plead Guilty

Redflex logoAccording to court filings, Martin O’Malley was the man in the middle of the Redflex Traffic Systems bribery scandal.

Allegedly, Redflex funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and gifts to former city manager John Bills–the man who oversaw the city’s red light camera program–with O’Malley as the conduit.

While O’Malley originally made a plea of not guilty when he was indicted earlier in the year in federal court.

However, according to the Sun-Times court documents indicate O’Malley has been cooperating with the feds and is planning to change his plea to guilty in December.

O’Malley’s cooperation probably puts additional pressure on Bills and former Redflex CEO Karen Finlay who both entered pleas of not guilty to their indictment.

Here’s the full story, “Key player in red light camera scandal plans to plead guilty.”

WBEZ Finds Chicago’s Yellow Lights Not Engineered Properly

In a devastating report on how the timing of yellow lights are set at Chicago’s traffic signals, WBEZ reporter Odette Yousef finds the city has not been following tried and true traffic engineering standards.

While none of what Yousef finds is news to well informed Chicago drivers, her research does a great job of explaining the issue.

In Yousef’s researh, she found that virtually no government entities set the yellow light times at virtually all traffic signals the same length–three seconds.

A recent poll says just 6% of 200 responding transportation agencies set amber times using this one size fits all approach.

IG Report Slams Red Light Camera Program For Poor Management

A sign on Irving Park Road warns drivers of the red light camera at at Kedzie.

A sign on Irving Park Road warns drivers of the red light camera at at Kedzie.

A newly released report from Chicago’s Inspector General’s Office slams the city’s management of its red light camera program and its oversight of the program’s former vendor, Redflex Traffic Systems.

The report, released Friday morning, is the result of an OIG investigation into a series of mysterious spikes in red light camera tickets at a handful of intersections uncovered by the Chicago Tribune this past summer. The story spotlighted 12 intersections where ticketing would jump dramatically for a short period of time, then subside just as suddenly, resulting in nearly 16,000 questionable violations.

After the Tribune story broke, members of the City Council’s Progressive Caucus wrote a letter to Inspector General Joseph Ferguson asking him to investigate these issues.

What the OIG investigation revealed was the Chicago Department of Transportation poorly managed the city’s red light camera program while Redflex was the vendor, allowing Redflex to avoid its contractual duties to report enforcement anomalies over the 11 years the company held the contract.

Redflex was banned from bidding on the new contract when an alleged bribery scandal came to light which implicated company management and a former CDOT manager who oversaw the program.

Read more at DNA Info Chicago.

Tribune Spotlights Short Yellow Issue With Red Light Tickets

red_light_cameraIn a recent report, the Chicago Tribune digs deeper into revelations many Chicago red light camera tickets have been issued despite being a tenth of a second under the three second federal standard.

The Tribune story expands upon the issue originally reported at the Expired Meter, when anti-camera activist Barnet Fagel was fighting a handful of RLC tickets and the Administrative Law Judge hearing the case dismissed two tickets based on short yellow light times.

The ALJ stated on the record that he was dismissing many tickets because of the sub-3 second yellow times.

“We’re having a big problem with these yellow lights,” Sussman said during the hearing in July. “Sixty to 70 percent are coming up under three seconds.”