Tollway Board Approves Steep Toll Increase

UPDATED 08/25/11 12:00 p.m.

DOWNERS GROVE, Ill. (CBS) — The cost of tolls will nearly double under a plan approved by the Illinois Toll Highway Authority Board Thursday.

The board of directors approved a plan to increase tolls, by 35 cents for I-Pass users, and 70 cents for cash payers.

Basic I-Pass toll rates will increase from 40 cents to 75 cents, with those who use cash to pay $1.50. Some toll plazas will cost as much as $1.90 for I-Pass.

The hike takes effect in January.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports

For I-Pass users, tolls have not increased in nearly 30 years, Illinois Toll Highway Authority executive director Kristi LaFleur said.

“Seventy-five percent of our drivers haven’t seen an increase in 1983,” LaFleur said on the CBS 2 Morning News Thursday. “We have some of the lowest rates in the country.”

Revenue from the toll hike would pay for a number of new projects — reconstruction of the Jane Addams Tollway, reconstruction I-90 from O’Hare International Airport to Rockford for the first time in 50 years, construction of a south suburban interchange between I-294 and I-57 and construction of an additional leg of the Elgin-O’Hare Expressway that still connects neither Elgin nor O’Hare.

The Tollway says the “Move Illinois” projects would create up to 120,000 jobs.

But motorists Thursday were none too thrilled about paying higher tolls.

Ellie Stearlman headed to work Thursday morning from her home in Libertyville, and topped off her tank at the local gas station. But she knows it takes more than just the cost of fuel to get there.

“I go to right about Lake Cook Road in Riverwoods, and I pay the toll getting off at Lake Cook, and getting back on there and back, so it’s $2 for me every day,” Stearman said.

So the idea of the tolls doubling is not welcome news.

“I think it’s pretty ridiculous. It’s already $2, which I think is kind of a lot to begin with, and I don’t know what they’re using this money for, but it’s a lot,” Stearlman said.

But those who have heard the purpose for the money seem to be getting behind the plan. The Sun-Times Media Wire reported Wednesday that Gov. Pat Quinn called the support for the plan “overwhelming.”

LaFleur echoed that sentiment on the CBS 2 Morning News Thursday.

“Well I think what we heard from the public was that the hearings and the hearing process that there was overwhelming support for the proposal and the capital projects,” LaFleur said.

She said the toll hike is necessary to quicken commute times and solve the congestion problem.

“Eighty-six percent of the feedback was positive, and what people are telling us is that congestion is the real problem here, and they want to solve it,” LaFleur said. “They’re tired of sitting in traffic. They’re tired of sitting on the Jane Addams, and they really want to solve the congestion problem that’s plaguing our city.”

The Tollway has been holding public hearings in the suburbs all through the past week, and the plan has also seen a substantial number of backers at the hearings.

Contractors, engineering firms, and labor union representatives lined up to show support.

“I got my driver’s license in 1983, when the last toll increase happened. Gas cost $1.35 a gallon. I can’t believe that we haven’t had a toll increase since then,” one supporter said.

But Jeff Criel of Libertyville doubted that the toll hike was necessary even for the projects the Tollway plans to undertake.

“That’s tough to sell because 94 was totally redone. I know 90 has to get redone, but I don’t know if doubling the tolls is necessary to do that,” Criel said. “It would basically double my toll every day. I hit two tolls going down 94 and out to 90.”

  • JIMMY D.


    • Ima user

      Tolls up – service down

  • Dino

    This is outrageous! Now tolls are going to subsidize public transit! I will stop using the tollway if one cent goes to public transit. We already get ripped off by the unfair RTA tax. Why should tollway users pay for people to ride the bus. Take that 240 mil out of the equation. But not to worry, 3 more years of Quinochio and there will be no one left in Illinois and no jobs to drive to on the tollway. The congestion problem will be solved!

  • Just Axin

    This was a done deal, especially with the director “coming out against” such a large increase. The problem is that the state gives this non-elected board the power to tax and that should not happen. Call your state reps and tell them to take this power away.

    • KE

      Yep! Calling now.

  • LTJR

    Gas 3.69 a gallon tolls 20 dollars to Chicago. after hike forty dollars
    do the math…

  • for term limit

    more money to corrupt politicians pockets.where is the money from the federal road funds.let’s us tax payer start a petition for a term limit to all illinois politicians,like the will or might stop corruption with term limit.

    • Dino

      You hit the nait on the head, TERM LIMITS NOW!!! and recall QUINN. also note the “overwhelming support for this boondoggle in the tribune poll. 87% AGAINST…I wonder who was at those public meetings, besides Union members, nobody!

  • Dave

    Quinn was going to clean up state politics HA. So far the state tax rate doubled and now the toll road. Guess where all that money goes? Right into the pockets of Quinn and the others via the contractors who “support” the increses. The Chicago machine has this all greased before it is ever announced to the public. Keep up the support for the democrats they will slowly bleed you dry

  • Vocie of Truth

    Would like to see salaries, perks, benefit packages for these tollway managerial brass. who exactly is the tollway board that approved this hike? Can someone provide us with this information.

  • Robert

    I am on social security and this will hurt many people. I pay taxes for schools(I don’t have any children) forest perservrs (I don’t use them. Park district. Don’t use and the kids play in the many other services that I don’t use. Instead of taxes I think there should be user fees.

    • KE

      YES. YES. YES!!!!

      You could not be MORE right!!!

    • ad

      this isa user fee. Dont use tollroad and you dont pay.

  • ad

    Hard to under4stand that 120000 jobs will be created. The jobs will only go to existing comanies/unions that are feeding the politicians pockets. Same o samo.

    • KE

      1) Illinois Companies
      2) Illinois Residents
      3) NO ILLEGALS!!! Any and all individuals working on any part of these projects must be a CIITIZEN on the US and RESIDE in ILLINOIS!!!

      • Peg

        Totally agree!!!!!11

      • Roberta Waker


  • jerry

    More filthy lies from groups that support these dog dirt lieing politicians like Quinn and all his democratic cronies–like 86% of the people polled (as stated) support and want a toll increase–anyone working is finding it harder and harder to survive with all the tax increases(utilities,gas,etc.,etc.)

    • Dino

      No, Jerry, it’s 87% against, check out the REAL poll in the Tribune!

  • Violet

    Guess my kids who use the toll ways for their businesses will be increasing their prices. Of course my daughter will have that much less disposable income because she has to use the toll roads to get to work. It’s going to be another lose/lose situation created by the politicians to save the economy.

  • LOTD

    Let’s ALL remember that we will be paying more to sit in the gridlock caused by the construction for all these new improvements. Seriously, PHUCK THIS STATE!!! Every time I’m trying to get through the toll on 90, I sit and curse this “open road” tolling BS that all these IDiOTs bragged about, and think to myself “I’m paying for this”!!!?? I hope they change all the signs to FU for Using the Illinois Tollway system.

  • Kat

    We needed a hike, but not 87%. This will put more jobs in IL. The problem is going to be the trucking companies. That makes them spend a lot more money. The toll way is capable to handle the truck weight, but if they can not afford it, they will cause more traffic on the regular roads, the problem will be that the streets do not have the weight capacity as the highway. What were they thinking?

    • Roberta Waker

      Thinking? You expect these people to think? My 7 year old neighbor girl has more smarts than those hotshots running this state, not to mention a heck of a lot more common sense.

  • anti corruptions

    time to revolts>like in some of those countries that has a dictators that are corrupts.maybe the NATO will send helpb

  • Rick

    I travel Belvidere to Chicago daily. I need gas to get there. I need coffe to get there safely. I need Sirius Satellite Radio to keep it entertaining. And I need to pay the increased tolls to keep myself and our roads moving forward. This will amount to just about $100 a month in tolls. I got just as much of a right to agonize over this as anyone.

    In 4 months I will also have the newest roads to travel upon daily (Jane Addams tollway) for which I am VERY thankful.

    Quit your complaining folks. It is the price of life and the price of Illinois in 2011.

    Nag, nag, nag. Quit sweatin’ the small stuff and focus on the more important issues. Please!

    • The Voice of Truth

      Your comments/mentality surely qualifies you to be an Illinois politician. The “It’s all about me” attitude certainly makes you a prime candidate. The issue at hand is that the politicians again are deceiving the public/taxpayers and continue to burden the everyday person with additional expenses. Which politiican are you related to (Quinn) ?

      • The Voice of Truth

        To Rick: You are absolutely correct when you say “I just don’t get it”. Chosen/Elected officials have and always will look out for their own interests first, Rarely does a plitician truly represent the people/taxpayers. So get off your “Self Righteous” ego trip and join the common folk. (If that is possible) . Rationalizing and defending/justifying the corrupt/self serving politicians appears to be your calling.

      • Rick

        Typo: It is all about “We”.

        If you feel your CHOSEN elected official has deceived you, then please make different choices next time – – regardless of party.

        Why is it so easy to complain so often and by so many people? I just don’t get it…

        No political affiliation or aspitrations on this end, thank you. I do not think I could handle such an unpleasant career nor properly represent a shoot-first and ask questions later constituency. Have a GREAT evening and a safe commute home.

    • Roberta Waker

      Four months? Surely you jest. How can other states have better roads with less congestion than Illinois without even one tollroad. Corruption maybe? We need to know where this money is going and the salaries of those involved; THEN we might not have to nag, nag, nag. If this is a small issue, what do you consider a more important issue that doesn’t cost as much money?

      • Rick

        Taking a DEEP Breath…. So worked up over a mess that WE created. We live here by choice. We work where we work by choice. The people in office are also by OUR choice. We are we then, pointing fingers at them?

        This IS Chicago. This IS Illinois. This IS what WE’VE created and where we CHOOSE to be.

        This is a done deal.

        Now, May I suggest we pay our tolls, get home safely, and go for a walk with a loved one, hand-in-hand, and focus on what REALLY matters and makes it ALL worth while. Hoping to see you with your loved one of kids tonight…

  • ad

    Just think. We will all pay higher tolls and commodities will go up for us to pay for trucking.

  • About to PUKE

    Good thing the hike is over. First they needed to get the election out of the way then the toll increase. Now the dept heads can get their 10% raises, new vehicles and gas cards. They can open the hiring freeze and get their friends and relatives toll way jobs.


    I’ll have to find another route to avoid 60 miles of daily tollway driving. I have to go to Indiana once a month but I will take 290 to the Dan Ryan and pay no tolls at all. There are three toll stations on my way to Indiana at 75 cents each I will save $4.50. THE TOLLWAY AUTHORITY IS CROOKED BUT IN ILLINOIS WHO ISN’T.

  • FedUp

    I hope everyone remembers that the tollway itself was supposed to be temporary. It is time to remove the entire institution. We the people have the ability to revoke these powers. It is time for Illinois to elect republicans, this dominate democrat state has failed.

  • we lose

    they dont call it crook county for nothing and have two governors in jail its beyond rediculous its taxpayer hell

  • Bad newscasting

    I’m sorry, but this is terrible newscasting.

    Allowing for the argument that some people believe that all taxes are bad, that all taxes are just fodder for the graft of politicians, if you believe that, then all taxes are bad. While some may think this is reasonable, I don’t.

    You argue that people are against this increase in tolls and prove this by asking people at a tollway oasis if they think is it s good idea or not. Who would be surprised that most people would be against this increase? If you asked hundreds of people outside a grocery store if they would like or dislike a doubling of the price of a gallon of milk, who would say it was a good thing?

    I heard a story on this from another station earlier in the day and the very last thing they stated (in a long story, like yours) was that the price of tolls in the Chicagoland region is currently at the 18th percentile of toll costs around the nation. The new level of the tolls, according to the other station, ratised the price of tolls in the Chicago region to the median of toll charges around the nation. The story seemed an afterthoght on the other station, but was not even mentioned on your station. (The people who believe that all taxes are bad and merely feed graft will not be swayed by this statistic.)

    However, under the assumption that tolls are, in fact, audited, and that much of the tolls are allocated towards highway construction, on the other hand, makes this one of the more palatable taxes one pays. Why? While there are many ways to consider “fairness” of taxation, many people dislike paying taxes that they don’t benefit from in some sense. Who pays the tolls on the tollways? The people that use the tollways! The tollway tax is imposed on the part of society that benefits from the tax (there are other beneficiaries, of course).

    If you wanted a journalistically interesting discussion or questionaire, you would list all the projects that were supposedly being funded by this increae in toll charges. Ask hundreds of Chicagoans that are presented with the construction projects (the proposed projects were listed in the Tribune today) and their costs whether they think the construction is important and then whether it is worth the cost. People may still say they don’t want the taxes but it wouldn’t be 87% any more.

    Journalistically interesting: what is the efficiency of the tolling system now under IPass compared to the earlier regime (how much of the toll charges raised in the IPass lanes is accounted for at the end of accounting periods, how much of the toll charges that are paid in cash is accounted for, how many cars go through the IPass lanes that do not have IPass transponders and how much of this “lost” revenue is collected). These issues would be questions of waste and graft and would be informative concerning the issues raised by many other commentors. I would bet that the system is far more efficient than the earlier regime, which had, if I remember correctly, a terrible record of theft.

    If people think the construction projects are unnecessary (and I think some are), time should be spent discussing that. If they think that other constuction projects are too expensive (I’m sure that some are), then you should focus on that. But if some amount of construction is necessary and worth the cost (and I’m sure some are), then the tollway tax is how they SHOULD BE paid for, because it imposes the tax on those who benefit from what the taxes fund.

    No one HAS to take a tollway. They do it because the convenience is worth the cost. With the higher cost, some may decide to take alternate routes. Those that decide to take the tollway will still find that the convenience is more than worth the cost. And would they be better off with lower tolls? With the same quality toll-ways yes; with lower quality tollways, it isn’t clear. But they won’t be paying more than people do on average in the country.

    What we should be fighting for is proof that the tax money is spent well, collected efficiently, and not going towards graft. Proof that the constuction projects are actually worth the money. This would be worthwhile fodder for Walter Jacobsen’s perspectives, but then he would have to think. Tough choice, I guess.

  • Quinn: Toll Hike Is Necessary « CBS Chicago

    […] Effective in January, basic I-Pass toll rates will increase from 40 cents to 75 cents, with those wh… […]

  • rc

    This means I have to find another job since instead of $40.00 a month I will be paying $80.00, not counting the $300.00 a month for gas. This is sick, how can they approve DOUBLE the price, people are out of work for GOD’s Sake, how, please tell us HOW are we suppose to survive and improve the economy by spending in other things if GAS AND I PASS will be leaving us BROKE! This ruined my lunch, now I have to find another job WITH OUT TOLLS. THANKS A LOT CROOKS!

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