CHICAGO (CBS)—Illinois requires vehicles more than four years old to pass an emissions test, but why does the largest city in Illinois lack an emissions testing facility?

Gretta Carter, who lives in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood, drove up to north suburban Skokie to get her car tested recently after she discovered there were no emissions testing facilities in the city.

“I was determined to get here,” Carter said. “I drove around for quite a while–I had to ask maybe five people how to get in here.”

Before she could get her registration renewed, Carter, like many other Illinois drivers, had to pass an emissions test.

But while she anticipated the testing requirement, she didn’t expect to have to drive up to the suburbs to find a testing facilty.

“This was the closest option for me, because the other place was in Schaumburg,” Carter said. “It should be a little bit closer—it should be.”

The number of emissions centers started to dwindle back in 2016 when former Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner privatized the emissions testing system in an effort to save $11 million.

The city’s two testing centers closed as a result.

The closest centers for Chicago residents are now in suburban Bedford Park to the southwest and Skokie to the north.

The Environmental Law and Policy center challenges the move.

“It doesn’t make common sense,” said Howard Learner of the Environmental Law and Policy Center. “In other words, you are polluting more to drive to the suburbs to have your cars tested for pollution.”

Both suburban locations are about a 12-mile drive from the Loop. They meet state distance guidelines, but the area’s population density can result in long wait times from overcrowding.

At the end of the month when registrations tend to expire, the Skokie facility can become so crowded it’s a challenge just to enter the site.

On the fronting two-lane road, staff at the Skokie center set-up cones to re-route traffic, and drivers are forced to make risky U-turns and three-point maneuvers to get inside.

There is hope, being fueled by environmental groups, that with a new administration in Springfield, more emissions testing centers could be opened.

In the meantime, city drivers like Carter have to deal with potential confusion while navigating their way to the suburban centers.

“I am still turned around trying to find my way back,” Carter said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vince Gerasole