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New Year Brings Higher Tolls, More Expensive Parking

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Tollway

The Illinois Tollway. (Credit: CBS)

roberts250 Bob Roberts
Bob Roberts is a native of Wilmette who has worked in Chicago media...
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Updated 1/1/12 – 5:25 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) – The New Year is bringing pain in the pocketbook for a lot of Chicagoans, because of a list of higher fees for everything from parking to tolls.

CBS 2’s Pamela Jones reports that it’s now going to cost $5.75 an hour to park on the street in downtown Chicago.

“It’s like every 25 cents is like 5 minutes. That’s outrageous. … That’s all they’re getting,” Bionca Monroe said.

She said feeding the meter at 2011 prices already hurt.

“I couldn’t even enjoy my New Year’s. I kept jumping up, waking up, trying to make sure there wasn’t a ticket, a boot,” she said.

The price jump begins on Monday, although it will take time for all of the city’s parking meters to be switched over to the new parking rates

In downtown Chicago — an area bounded by Lake Michigan to the east, Wacker Drive to the north and west and Congress Parkway to the south — the rate will go up from $5 per hour to $5.75 per hour. That rate is cut in half during off-peak hours from 9 p.m. to 8 a.m.

In the Central Business District — an area bounded by Lake Michigan to the east, North Avenue to the north, Halsted Street to the west and Roosevelt Road to the south, exclusive of the premium rate downtown — parking meter rates jump from $3 per hour to $3.50 per hour in the new year.

In the rest of the city, parking meter rates will rise from $1.50 per hour to $1.75 per hour.

“It’s outrageous, though; the price … definitely not what I want to see on New Year’s,” Monroe said.

Paying more for parking is just one part of the sticker shock drivers are facing

Own a car in Chicago? You’ll pay at least $10 more for a Chicago city sticker, too. The fee goes up even more for larger vehicles.

Plus, signs are flashing new, higher rates on the Illinois Tollway.

Like it or not, higher tolls have taken effect on the Illinois Tollway system.

The new tolls took effect at the stroke of midnight, with the arrival of the New Year. At most toll booths that means an increase from 40 cents to 75 cents for those who have an I-Pass transponder, while those who pay cash are seeing an increase from 80 cents to $1.50.

If you were hoping to get the old rate by paying cash for a few days, save yourself the trouble. Officials say it cannot be done.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Roberts reports

Once upon a time, Illinois Toll Highway Authority workers had to reset each of the baskets manually, but Executive Director Kristi LaFleur said that has been controlled by computers for some time now.

“There aren’t places were you can throw change in the bucket and we’ve just missed one of the lanes and have a lower rate there for some reason,” LaFleur said.

The general increase is the first to hit all motorists using the Tollways since 1983 and only the second since 1958.

The increased tolls are intended to underwrite a 15-year, $12 billion program of repairs, improvements and expansion. Highlights include a wider I-90 with special bus lanes and an interchange between the Tri-State and I-57, where none has ever existed.

Planning is already underway. LaFleur said construction will begin on the I-294-I-57 interchange and several other projects this spring.

And, of course, the new seat belt law goes into effect in Illinois on Sunday. It requires everyone in the car to be buckled in, even in the back seat.

Back seat passengers caught without their seatbelts could get fined $25.

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