Since 2015, 15 bills seeking to eliminate or significantly control the use of red-light camera technology in Illinois have been blocked from receiving fair hearings or consideration in the House of Representatives. With the State Senator who chairs the Senate Transportation Committee now involved in a federal corruption probe that alleges he used his political office to award government contracts in exchange for kickbacks, State Representative Grant Wehrli (R-Naperville) is filing new legislation to ban red-light cameras in Illinois.
“On more than one occasion over the last several years, it appears Senator Martin Sandoval intervened on his political donors’ behalf, gaining State approval for red-light cameras at safe intersections, and sending business to a campaign donor who stood to make millions off the installation of new cameras,” said Wehrli. “As the Senate Transportation Chair, he also has a heavy hand in controlling the movement, or non-movement, of bills that address transportation issues. As the FBI’s federal investigation into Senator Sandoval’s shady dealings intensifies, it’s time to re-examine the use of red-light cameras in Illinois and consider the type of ban he has repeatedly blocked. It’s time this issues received fair consideration.”
Wehrli pointed to a specific red-light camera, installed at the entrance of Oak Brook Center Mall at 22nd Street and Route 83 in DuPage County, as an example of political influence over the use of red-light camera technology. “The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) initially rejected the application for the installation of red-light cameras at the entrance to Oak Brook Center Mall, claiming the intersection was safe and did not meet the established criteria for use of the technology,” Wehrli said. “It was only after Senator Sandoval interceded that IDOT officials did an about-face and abruptly changed their minds and approved the camera location. A review of the Senator’s campaign records shows that at about that same time, the company that lobbied for those cameras made donations totaling tens of thousands of dollars to the Senator’s campaign fund.”
In addition to banning the installation of new red-light cameras, the Wehrli legislation would require discontinued use of existing cameras. The bill would also ban the use of cameras to detect speeding by motorists. Work zone cameras, railroad crossing cameras, and school bus stop arm cameras would still be legal if the bill was enacted. Current laws for Chicago speed zone cameras would also remain. “Time after time, these red light camera bills have stalled immediately upon their filing,” said Wehrli. “Perhaps now, with the threat of federal prosecution looming large, the issue will finally get the attention it deserves.”