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Illinois Tollway Board Approves Toll Hike

Board approves 15-year, $12 billion capital plan funded by the first general toll increase since 1983.

Replenish your I-PASS; tolls are going up.

Illinois Tollway Board members approved a 15-year, $12 billion capital plan during Thursday's board meeting in . Starting Jan. 1, most I-PASS drivers can expect to pay a 35-cent increase at the tolls to fund the project. Cash-paying toll users will see a 70-cent increase.

While 50 percent of Illinois Toll Plazas will carry the 35-cent increase for I-Pass users, other plazas will see a greater increase, ranging from 45 to 90 cents, while cash-paying toll users will be hit with an increase ranging from 90 cents to $1.80.

The board approved the capital plan with a vote of 7-1, with director William Morris casting the only no vote, largely because he felt the plan failed to make I-53 in Lake County and Northern Illinois the priority he felt it should be. A last-minute proposed amendment to the resolution aimed at giving I-53 a higher priority failed, as did an earlier amendment proposed by Morris to cut the toll increase from 35 cents to 20 cents.

Of the $12 billion plan, $8.32 billion is expected to go to existing tollway needs, which includes restructuring I-90, I-294 and I-94. Repairs and preservation projects are also expected on I-88 and I-355.

The remaining money is slated for new projects. The plan calls for a new I-90 corridor linking Rockford to O'Hare, linking I-294 and I-57, and the renovation and expansion of the Elgin O'Hare Expressway.

Statistics from the Tollway's 15 public hearings were given to the board prior to voting, and an additional round of public comments were heard, as well. There were 845 written comments and 431 spoken comments provided during the hearings, with 88 percent of the written comments supporting the plan and 81 percent of the spoken comments supporting.

When asked after the meeting if the overwhelming support they received during the public hearings could be trusted, Tollway Board Chair Paula Wolff felt they had done all they could to solicit public input.

“All we could capture were the number of people who came to the meetings and the comments made,“ she said, adding that a lot of effort was made to make people aware of the discussions and the meeting and the importance of their input.

Public concern during the hearing often focused on the impact increased tolls could have on low-income families. During the meeting, board members vowed to explore various options to ease the burden on certain segments of toll users.

Public comments during Thursday's meetings were largely in support of the plan and mostly featured labor representatives and others who stand to directly benefit from the jobs created by the plan.

Matt Hart, executive director of the Illinois Trucking Association, felt differently. Hart warned a continual increase in tolls to the trucking industry could result in more commercial vehicles opting to stay away from the tollways, creating an increase in traffic snarls and congestion on side roads.

For more information on the plan, click .

Darlene Heslop August 28, 2011 at 02:38 AM
i really liked the definition of what made a good mayor/city council member on your website. i'm definitely going to keep reading.
Jeffrey Crane August 28, 2011 at 04:14 AM
Awesome. I appreciate the input. Spread the word.....
Cincinnatus August 29, 2011 at 02:30 PM
Notice that Cronin and Sandack have taken remarkably different views here. Just saying'...
Cincinnatus August 29, 2011 at 02:32 PM
May I suggest the next meeting of the DuPageTeaParty may be a place you want to be? Good people there...
RegularGuy September 05, 2011 at 08:41 PM
A lot of the justification I kept hearing in the news was 'job creation'. When has it EVER been the Tollway Authority's role to CREATE JOBS? Their scope (I thought) was limited to operating tollways. Now they suddenly decide they need to become a 'stimulus program' to create jobs. What the geniuses on the Tollway Board don't get is that the more discretionary income you squeeze out of the public, the less they have to spend on things which create sustainable jobs. If I end up spending an extra $20 a week on tolls, that money is going to have to come from somewhere in my personal budget. I'll spend less in a variety of places which in turn, will suffer. All in exchange for some patronage construction jobs.

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