Red-light camera returns to Wauconda intersection
Red-light camera gear has been reinstalled at a busy Wauconda intersection, eight years after being removed because of a road-widening project.
The camera went up earlier this month at Bonner Road and Route 12. It's positioned to monitor northbound traffic on Route 12 but hasn't yet been activated.
That could happen in a couple weeks, Wauconda Police Chief David Wermes said.
The camera, provided by a Lombard vendor called RedSpeed USA, was removed in 2011 when a right-turn lane was added on Route 12 for cars intending to go east on Bonner.
Wermes long advocated for the camera's reinstallation at the intersection, which he's called the most dangerous in Wauconda.
After the original camera came down, car crashes at the intersection increased more than 30 percent, officials said during a 2016 debate.
Traffic safety is particularly a concern there because Robert Crown Elementary School is only a block away on Bonner, Wermes said.
Two other red-light cameras are active in Wauconda. One is on Route 176 at Main Street, and the other is on Route 176 at the ramp that leads to southbound Route 12.
In September 2018, Wauconda's village services committee recommended a camera be reinstalled at Bonner and Route 12. Members said they considered the camera a tool for enforcing traffic laws and funding village operations.
Wauconda officials have said a camera at that intersection could generate $40,000 in annual revenue from fines.
A formal vote wasn't required because the plan involves a previously approved camera, not a new one, Village Administrator Kevin Timony said.
Critics often complain red-light cameras don't improve safety and are nothing but cash machines for towns.
Wauconda Trustee Adam Schlick opposed reinstalling the camera for those reasons.
"I feel the overwhelming majority of our residents aren't in favor of these cameras either," Schlick said.
State Rep. David McSweeney, a Barrington Hills Republican whose district includes Wauconda, has campaigned for years to ban or restrict the cameras statewide. He's proposed two bills this year, but neither has progressed since being sent to a rules committee in March.
"I'm going to keep trying," McSweeney said Thursday.
Algonquin, Deer Park and Schaumburg are among the towns that have ended red-light camera programs due to complaints or doubts about safety claims.
Wauconda Trustee Tim Howe isn't sold on the idea that traffic cameras make intersections safer. But he has no problem issuing a ticket when a camera catches someone running a red light.
"I don't have a lot of sympathy for someone who got caught breaking the law just because it was a camera that caught them and not an officer personally on the scene," he said.
Wauconda police review potential violations submitted by RedSpeed and use discretion before issuing a ticket. Only 35% to 40% of Wauconda's cases result in tickets, Wermes said.
"We have always tried to be reasonable," Howe said.