Roosevelt Blvd. speed cameras hit delay, installation pushed back

An artist's rendering of the BAT lanes planned for Roosevelt Boulevard. (City of Philadelphia)

An artist's rendering of the BAT lanes planned for Roosevelt Boulevard. (City of Philadelphia)

A regulatory snag is delaying the rollout of speed cameras on deadly Roosevelt Boulevard.

The Boulevard is reputed as the most dangerous road in Philadelphia with 21 fatal crashes in 2018 and eight this year. After years of advocacy and some legislative support from Harrisburg, Mayor Jim Kenney signed a bill in June legalizing automated enforcement on the North Philadelphia expressway. The city planned to install the cameras by the end of 2019 but that plan hit a bump and now, the cameras won’t be installed until the spring of 2020. PennDOT expects them to be effective by year’s end — a delay that upsets people who’ve lost family members to traffic crashes on the boulevard.

“This is a huge risk to have more people lose their lives along that road,” said Latanya Byrd, a member of Families for Safe Streets Greater Philadelphia.

Byrd began fighting for safety improvements on the boulevard after a driver speeding a vehicle down the boulevard hit her niece and her niece’s four children in 2013. All five were killed.

“We are very distraught right now knowing that the holidays are coming,” Byrd said. “I see people speeding all the time. We would like to see something happen quickly.”

The cameras will go up along the 12-mile stretch of Roosevelt Boulevard between 9th Street and the Bucks County line. Their installation was made possible through Act 86, a law that authorized automated speed enforcement on state roadways, Roosevelt Boulevard and in work zones. PennDOT and PTC were authorized to craft a regulation that would identify testing and certification for the equipment.

But now PennDOT and the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission say they need more time to come up with the regulations, according to PennDOT.

“We don’t want to implement any kind of program or put any equipment out there until we know for sure that it’s working,” said Alexis Campbell, PennDOT’s press secretary.

The speed cameras and sensors will be used to detect when a driver exceeds the speed limit by 11 miles per hour or more. After a 60-day warning period, the Philadelphia Parking Authority, which will run the program, will issue fines ranging from $100 to $150. Up to three violations can be issued within a 30-minute period.

“Philadelphia Parking Authority is ready to go,” PPA spokesperson Marty O’Rourke said. “We’re just waiting for authorization from PennDOT.”

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