Kenney signs Roosevelt Boulevard speed camera bill

The automated speed enforcement system is expected to be up and running on the Boulevard by the end of the year.

Street talk: Philadelphia Parking Authority Executive Director Scott Petri speaks on Wednesday, June 19, about legislation authorizing speed cameras on Roosevelt Boulevard. JACK TOMCZUK / TIMES PHOTO

Mayor Jim Kenney last week signed a City Council bill enabling the installation of speed cameras on Roosevelt Boulevard, and officials released some details on the roll-out of the automated enforcement system.

Crews are expected to begin setting up the system in the fall, and, after a 60-day grace period, fines will be issued to drivers caught going 11 mph or more above the speed limit.

“So, likely by the end of the year, they’re going to be active and issuing tickets,” Philadelphia Parking Authority Executive Director Scott Petri said.

It’s still not clear how many cameras will be installed and where they will be located. Deputy Managing Director Mike Carroll said the city is still working on those specifics.

A representative from the Mayor’s Office said to expect a list of locations for the cameras to be published in the coming months.

“I think the main thing is that the whole Boulevard is going to be likely under surveillance,” Carroll said.

The automated system will affect the entire 12-mile stretch of the Boulevard from 9th Street to the Bucks County Line.

Once it’s up and running, anyone going 11 to 19 mph over the speed limit will be fined $100. Those going 20 to 29 mph above the limit will get a $125 ticket, and drivers traveling 30 mph or more over the limit will be docked $150.

A driver may get up to three tickets within any 30-minute period. The violations will not add points to a person’s driving record.

During the 60-day grace period, drivers caught on camera speeding will receive a warning in the mail.

Mayor Jim Kenney signs legislation Wednesday, June 19, to bring speed cameras to Roosevelt Boulevard. JACK TOMCZUK / TIMES PHOTO

The PPA will administer the program. Currently, the agency operates nine red-light cameras on the Boulevard.

“Since the program began, we have seen a dramatic reduction in red-light-running at a number of intersections,” Petri said. “We are confident that the introduction of automated speed enforcement cameras will curb speeding.”

All of the speakers at the bill-signing ceremony spoke between posters that said “Speed Cameras Save Lives” and “Slower = Safer.”

Though the cameras gained bipartisan support in Harrisburg and were approved by a unanimous vote in Council, automated speed enforcement does have its opponents, notably the National Motorists Association. The driver advocacy group has painted the cameras as a money grab.

“The objective is not to collect money,” Carroll said. “It’s to save lives.”

Proceeds will go toward covering the program’s costs and funding transportation safety grants, officials said.

Safety advocates praised the move, saying it will make the notoriously dangerous 12-lane road safer for pedestrians and drivers.

“It has been a long journey,” said Latanya Byrd, whose niece, Samara Banks, and her three young boys died while crossing the Boulevard in 2013. “I’m just glad to be here today.”

There were nearly 2,700 crashes on the Boulevard and 139 people were killed or seriously injured from 2013 to 2017, according to the Mayor’s Office.

Carroll said automated speed enforcement has proven effective in New York. Speeding at locations with cameras decreased by 63 percent and crashes were reduced by 55 percent after the system was in operation, the Mayor’s Office said.

Kenney and Ninth District Councilwoman Cherelle Parker, who introduced the speed camera legislation, both thanked former state Rep. John Taylor. Taylor, who retired last year, helped to get automated enforcement legalized at the state level. ••

Jack Tomczuk can be reached at jtomczuk@newspapermediagroup.com.