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Quinn: Toll Hike Is Necessary

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Gov. Pat Quinn

Gov. Pat Quinn says a bill that would dramatically expand casino gambling in Illinois is “excessive.” (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — Gov. Pat Quinn says the steep hike in tolls coming in January is necessary to maintain and expand the system.

As WBBM Newsradio’s John Cody reports, the Illinois Toll Highway Authority Board of Directors on Thursday approved a plan to increase tolls, by 35 cents for I-Pass users, and 70 cents for cash payers.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s John Cody reports

Effective in January, 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.

When asked if the toll hike was breaking faith with motorists who were once promised an end to tolls when bonds were paid off, Quinn says that pledge was made a long time ago and the state needs the tollway expansion now.

“We’re expanding the number of lanes, for example, on the Jane Addams Tollway, there will be an extra lane,” Quinn said Thursday. “There will also be room for mass transit for the first time in the history of the tollway. We’re going to have room for a bus-only lane.”

Illinois Toll Highway Authority executive director Kristi LaFleur pointed out Thursday that for I-Pass customers, basic tolls have not increased since 1983.

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.

Quinn said the I-294/I-57 interchange is also a must-do project.

“We’re one of the very few places in the United States where two interstates cross — they intersect — but they don’t connect, and that’s down at 294 and I-57,” Quinn said. “We’re going to change that. We’re going to have those two connect for the first time ever.”

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