Speed cameras will come to Roosevelt Boulevard, following a unanimous City Council vote Thursday that marked the end of a three-year process to bring the technology to Philadelphia.
“We know it’s been proven to make streets safer for everyone," said Randy LoBasso of the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, which was active in pushing for speed cameras’ legalization.
The Boulevard is considered the most dangerous thruway in the city, accounting for 8 percent of all crashes that resulted in death or serious injury from 2013 to 2017. Last year, 21 people died on the road, according to police data.
In public comments Thursday, Jana Tidwell, a spokesperson for AAA, said that in a recent poll conducted by the organization, 52 percent of those asked approved of the use of automated speed enforcement. Of those polled, 21 percent said a divided highway like the Boulevard was the best place to use the technology.
The cameras will be installed at seven to 11 locations along 11½ miles of the Boulevard and would likely be spaced close to a mile and a half apart. Fines would be tiered, with the smallest being $100 for traveling 11 mph to 20 mph over the speed limit (which is 45 mph on most of the Boulevard). Going 31 mph or more over the speed limit would result in a $150 ticket.
The Philadelphia Parking Authority will administer the cameras, which are expected to be in place by the end of this year. Motorists would get a 60-day grace period in which the cameras would issue warnings. Signs along the road would warn motorists that they were being watched by automatic enforcement.
The PPA selected Verra Mobility in April to handle the contract for the speed cameras. The Mesa, Ariz., company offered a winning bid of $2,995 a camera per month, an offer that beat out Conduent, the company currently administering the city’s red-light camera program. Verra’s contract extends through 2022. The company’s payment is not conditional on the number of violations issued. Verra can, however, collect a $4 convenience fee for any violation payments made with credit or debit cards.
Verra was created as a relaunch and expansion of American Traffic Solutions in 2018. ATS had managed the PPA’s red-light camera program until 2013, when the contract was reassigned to the company that became Conduent. The change was contentious, with ATS challenging the switch in court.
Installing speed cameras is a significant landmark in the city’s safe streets initiative, Vision Zero. Roosevelt Boulevard has long been described as one of the top priorities in the city’s efforts to reduce traffic deaths, and automated enforcement has been viewed as a fair tool that will force drivers to slow down.
“This is a key part of the city meeting any of its Vision Zero goals,” said Nick Zuwiala-Rogers of the Clean Air Council’s pedestrian safety initiative, Feet First Philly.