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Law Mandating Upgrade To Expressway Cameras Is Supposed To Go Into Effect Jan. 1, But Movement Is Not Evident

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Some cameras are supposed to get an upgrade so they can record video, and help catch gunmen that are targeting drivers on busy Chicago expressways.

The new law is supposed to go into effect next week – after several reports from CBS 2's Lauren Victory.

But we are likely at least months away from the cameras recording.

Twenty-one times on the Dan Ryan Expressway alone, drivers and passengers saw shootings this year. It is by far the expressway with the most gunfire in 2019.

Illinois State Police have said repeatedly that surveillance cameras recording on the expressways will help them solve cases. But it looks like we will start 2020 with that tool still missing from the toolbox.

"The goal is to have everything operational by January 1st," state Rep. Thaddeus Jones (D-South Holland) said back in August.

Jones pushed for the Expressway Cameras Act. But months after our August interview, we found that no one has hit "accelerate" on it.

"There may be some hiccups," Jones conceded in the August interview. "But that's my goal."

But four months later, it doesn't seem like the plan has suffered from hiccups, but from little to movement. That is based on the little to no information given to us by both Illinois State Police and the Department of Transportation.

The law is set to go into effect next week and will upgrade live traffic cameras so they can also record. That would provide critical surveillance footage needed to solve expressway shootings.

There have been 49 such shootings in Cook County this year alone, with 34 gunshot victims and three deaths.

This summer, Lt. Col. David Byrd told us the ISP was working with IDOT to pick strategic, technologically feasible locations for the new equipment.

"There's so many other logistical issues that have to be considered," Byrd said in August. Among the issues was the power source, he said.

So what's the status now?

"What does 'effective Jan. 1, 2020 mean to IDOT?" CBS 2 asked."

"It's pretty short and straightforward," the IDOT representative said about the law without elaborating. "The department continues to coordinate with ISP and other stakeholders on getting the necessary infrastructure in place."

We replied with a list specific of questions, including:

• When is the next scheduled meeting of stakeholders on this topic?
• What else has been done in the past few months since then?
• Is there a goal date of when this project will go out to bid?

IDOT did not answer any of those questions and referred CBS 2 to State Police, with whom we have also checked in. We contacted State Police on this subject in September, October, and last week.

"At this time, we don't have any updates to share" ISP said.

Rep. Jones did not return Victory's calls for this story. But even if you don't drive or take the highways we're talking about here, consider this – every time there's a shooting on an expressway like the Dan Ryan, it costs taxpayers an average of $11,000.

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