City: Roosevelt Boulevard speed cameras to be live by end of year

A police officer stands by a sheet covering the remains of a young child and a baby stroller at the scene of a fatal accident on Roosevelt Boulevard in the Olney section of Philadelphia on Tuesday July 16, 2013. (Joseph Kaczmarek/AP Photo)

A police officer stands by a sheet covering the remains of a young child and a baby stroller at the scene of a fatal accident on Roosevelt Boulevard in the Olney section of Philadelphia on Tuesday July 16, 2013. (Joseph Kaczmarek/AP Photo)

Speed cameras will be watching over Roosevelt Boulevard by the end of 2019, city officials said Wednesday.

The cameras are coming to a 12-mile stretch of Roosevelt between 9th Street and the Bucks County boundary line — a section of road that ranks as the city’s deadliest.

In 2018 alone, 21 people died in traffic collisions there. Over the prior five years, there were 2,700 crashes resulting in 139 fatalities.

The cameras, and the sensors they rely on, will detect when a driver exceeds the speed limit by 11 miles per hour or more.

“Adding automated speed cameras on the boulevard is one of the most effective steps we can take towards eliminating traffic deaths,” Mayor Jim Kenney said on Wednesday, just before signing a bill legalizing the cameras.

The bill signing came after more than five years of advocacy from people like Latanya Byrd, who lost her niece and her niece’s four children when an Audi  S4 hurled into them as they crossed the street.

Cameras reduced deadly crashes by 50% in NYC

The Philadelphia Parking Authority will run the speed camera program, while  city workers will post signs to alert drivers of the automated enforcement. Drivers will have a 60-day warning period to slow down after the cameras go up. At the end of that period, the PPA will begin issuing fines ranging from $100 to $150. Up to to three violations can be issued within a 30-minute period.

The move comes as part of the city’s Vision Zero Initiative, which aims to reduce traffic deaths to zero by 2030.

Mike Carroll, deputy managing director of Office Transportation, Infrastructure, and Sustainability,  said cameras are a proven strategy for making streets safer. He pointed to a camera program in New York City that officials say reduced speeding by nearly two-thirds, and halved the number of fatal crashes.

“Experience has taught us throughout the country that this type of enforcement does save lives by slowing down speeds,” Carroll said.

Scott Petri, the executive director of the Philadelphia Parking Authority, pointed to sucesses locally. Cameras at red lights reduced violations by an average of 43%, he said.

“We are confident that the introduction of automated speed enforcement cameras will curb speeding,” Petri said.

Revenue generated by the cameras will help pay for other safety initiatives in the city including intersection safety improvements, and safer pedestrian crossings.

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