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 of Grayslake 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 was 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 .

D46 Resident August 25, 2011 at 11:27 PM
So I will stop using the tollway. I wonder how many others will stop using it too, and what happens if they actually hit the tipping point and start losing revenue? Hmm....
Tim Froehlig August 26, 2011 at 10:37 AM
I'm confused. In the first paragraph, the writer says cash paying toll users will see a 70-cent increase. Then in the second paragraph, he says cash paying toll users will face an increase of 90 cents to $1.80. Which is it? Thanks!
Brad Faxton August 26, 2011 at 12:24 PM
Where are you getting the $1BB figure? Taking the 1700ish employees and dividing that into a billion results in an average salary of over $400k. I just looked at their annual report for 2009 (actual salaries for 2008, projected for 2009 and budgeted for 2010 and I can only find $257MM (fully burdened) http://www.illinoistollway.com/pls/portal/docs/PAGE/TOLLWAY/ABOUTTOLLWAY/ABOUTTOLLWAY_FINANCIALS/ABOUTTOLLWAY_BUDGETS/2009%20DECEMBER%20BUDGET%20BOOK%20FINAL.PDF
Nightcrawler August 26, 2011 at 12:53 PM
Try reading the second paragraph again. Seems pretty clear to me.
C-Dub August 26, 2011 at 01:52 PM
The trucking industry has voiced their intentions, while the trucking hikes do not go into effect until 2015, to use the artillery roads to avoid the tolls on 94. Being from Grayslake, this will cause congestion and damage to the road infrastructure, which is already like shoving 10 pounds of crap into a 2 pound bag in Grayslake. They need to build 53, Tollway BOD Morris, who lives in Grayslake, was the only no vote, because 53 was not apart of the plan with the revenue that will be generated. When will they realize that they need to step up and do something for Lake and McHenry Counties.
Tim Froehlig August 26, 2011 at 02:10 PM
I see. Some plazas will have a greater increase than others. I was confused because he just kind of threw that information in the end of the second paragraph without being specific as to which ones. It's not very well-written because it states very plainly and matter-of-factly in the paragraph after the opening sentence, "Cash-paying toll users will see a 70-cent increase." When in fact, in the very NEXT paragraph, the author attempts to explain that's not the case - and contradicts his first paragrapgh - by THEN saying only half of the cash tolls will be subject to that increase amount, while others will face a greater hike.
Tim Froehlig August 26, 2011 at 02:17 PM
Brad: Illinoisopengov.org. However, now that I've gone back to that site, I see that they have since amended their total amont to something closer to $155 million. So your figure is probably correct. I'm currently trying to figure out if the figure I saw initially was in a different subcategory or included work paid to those fixing the roadways as well. Because I was on this site three days ago and saw a completely different figure than I looked up today, no joke.
Tim Froehlig August 26, 2011 at 02:23 PM
If they build 53, all it will do is create more overpopulated towns, more congestion on existing local roads because it will draw more people here, more pollution and a greater cost to local municipalities to fix their roads ore often. Some of the figures I've seen over the past decade about how much extending 53 would cost are staggering. And even if they extended 53, they'd probably just turn that into a toll road also. Towns need to start re-zoning so that they don't have 10 pounds of crap in a 2 pound bag in every single town, as you put it yourself. Otherwise, you'll have one giant smoggy traffic congested suburban area out here in Lake and McHenry Counties, like Schaumburg. The existing Route 53 is already nearly overburdened itself every day. So we should bring more of that here, to our local roads? No thanks. Just my opinion. Lake County doesn't need to turn into another Cook County. It already is starting to.
Brad Faxton August 26, 2011 at 02:27 PM
Did sound a tad funny at first to me. Initially I thought it was a slanted number like total number of employees + outsourced construction workers + cops + taxi folks + whatever / total expenses for the year. I think the $155mm is salaries + retirement - the basic figure minus travel, expense etc... Much more inline with what I would expect. 80% to the base workers, 20% to the mgt. Works out to about 70k for the workers (average) - I'm sure the spread is between 40k to 130k. Mgt and VPs making market wage. Meh. Hardly worth blinking an eyelash at.
Brad Faxton August 26, 2011 at 02:29 PM
*cheering!* Yes, 53 needs to be built along with the 120 bypass. Going North/South and East/West in our area is sucky. Tis' one of the reasons I leave for work at 6a-6:30a.
C-Dub August 26, 2011 at 04:06 PM
Tim, I bet you live and work in the area. Unfortunately, I do not have the liberty of having a 10 minute commute to work. I know the argument that I chose to work where I do, but again, it really wasn't a choice, I have to earn a living. Sometimes to get out of Grayslake in the morning it can take 30 minutes to get from Washington and 83 to the 137 - 83 split. I would not mind if the 53 extension was toll road. In my opinion, your if you build it they will come thinking is a little extreme, the congestion is already here, the pollution is already here (you think all those cars crawling on 120 at 3:30 are turned off? I agree with Brad, if you give more corridors, it will ease the tension on the system. Hell nobody wants to move here now anyway with the taxes and the publicity our area has been getting in the recent past. Here is another thought: wouldn't it be better on the local business and even draw more businesses in the area if there was easy travel in the area. Just thinking about the small business people in the area and possibly keeping my taxes where they are at.
Tim Froehlig August 26, 2011 at 07:40 PM
I respect your opinion C-Dub. I used to have to drive 60 miles each way to Elmhurst to work each day back when it was bumper-to-bumper just to get on the tollway at Rte. 132. If I could be assured that additional tax revenue would be used to keep property taxes at bay, that would be one things. But given that property taxes where I live have increased every year for around a decade, there's no reason for me to believe that would happen. Much like the tollway system, the costs keep going up and up no matter how much revenue they add every year. (See: Illinois State Income Tax, also. Illinois doubles its revenue the past year, yet raises your income tax rate). Added business can be good, obviously, but at what cost? We'll see. But count on this, like it or not - Route 53 won't be here anytime soon, or in the next decade even, I'd bet on it.
C-Dub August 26, 2011 at 08:42 PM
Valid point!
Rich August 29, 2011 at 05:00 PM
Homer remembers driving with his mother when he was too young to drive, exiting northbound at Dundee Road and mom saying, "when are they going to finish this road." Mom's been gone 33 years and 53 only made it to Lake-Cook. Hearing the stuff about more traffic and more taxes is nonsense. The traffic is already here. Route 53 and the 120 bypass must be built. The smart people of Lake County voted with a large majority in favor of Route 53. How is it good for for Homer to have a 9:00 AM appointment in Rolling Meadows and go through 42 traffic control devices just to get to Route 53? And, the time, idiling and slow speeds is economically and environmentally just not good. But, there are those that think time wasted and cars not running at efficient speeds is a good thing. Build the highways. The traffic is already here!


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