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Kane Co. says no to Elgin's plan for red light cams on Randall Road
By Harry Hitzeman | Daily Herald Staff

Red light camera at the northbound intersection of Route 31 with Route 64 in downtown St. Charles.


Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

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Published: 2/16/2010 12:07 PM | Updated: 2/16/2010 1:17 PM

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Elgin's quest to install red light cameras has hit yet another stop sign.

Kane County transportation officials have denied a city request to install red light cameras for southbound traffic at three Randall Road intersections: Big Timber Road, Bowes Road and Route 72.

"We continue to strike out," said Elgin Deputy Police Chief Robert Beeter. "I find it hard to believe we can't get them approved for Randall Road."

Mayor Ed Schock also said he was "perplexed" by the county's decision, issued late last year.

"I was surprised," he said. "Randall Road is a very dangerous road. ... There is not much we can say about it really. It is what it is."

According to data provided to the county's division of transportation, those three areas just aren't dangerous enough.

Kurt Nika, KDOT's chief of permitting, said only two motorists going southbound at Randall and Bowes ran the red light during an eight-hour, weekday test period and the intersection had zero crashes in the last four years directly caused by someone headed southbound running the light.

Randall and Big Timber had six southbound red-light violations in eight hours and one southbound crash in four years, Nika said.

In 2008, the state installed left-turn-only arrows at Randall and Route 72 and crashes dropped at what was once deemed the county's most dangerous intersection.

Nika said the intersection had two southbound red-light violations in an eight-hour period and county officials didn't have recent enough crash data to make an assessment since the new traffic signal was installed.

To contrast, the southbound lanes of Randall and Route 38 in St. Charles - where a red-light camera has been approved by the county - saw 130 violations in a 12-hour span and three crashes in the last four years caused by southbound motorists running red lights.

Nika noted there are no nationally recognized traffic standards when it comes to red light cameras.

"Local agencies like KDOT use engineering judgment to determine what's appropriate," he said. "We're definitely willing to reconsider the (Elgin) matter in the future. What we need is updated data."

While red-light cameras have popped up in numerous towns across the Fox Valley, five county intersections have received the thumbs up so far.

St. Charles has permission to install cameras at Kirk Road and Route 64, along with Randall and Route 38.

In Geneva, cameras have the go-ahead for Fabyan Parkway and Kirk Road, along with two intersections along Randall at Williamsburg Avenue and Fargo Road.

The latter two are scheduled to become operational on Feb. 21, marking the first pair on county roads, Nika said.

The denial leaves Elgin with zero intersections nearly two years after inking a deal with the Arizona-based Redflex to install, monitor and maintain the cameras.

"We've identified them, but we've run into problems with the environment," Beeter said.

In early 2008, city officials came up with a list of 13 possible intersections for Redflex to evaluate.

But in February 2009, city leaders said three intersections for cameras would not work for various reasons.

The city has intersection improvements planned for Dundee Avenue and Summit Street and didn't want to install cameras only to remove them later.

Also, train-arm signals would have interfered with the red-light cameras at eastbound and westbound Big Timber Road and McLean Boulevard and westbound Kimball Street at State Street, or Route 31.

Schock said he still supports cameras where they can improve safety. He also noted that pedestrians are in the most danger of being struck by a motorist who fails to make a complete stop before turning right on a red light.

"If they prevent accidents and improve safety, I think they're worth it," he said.