Illinois Tollway officials want to double current toll rates to fund a $12 billion, 15-year capital plan that would see the region’s first new tollway since the opening of the Veterans Memorial Tollway, a new interchange in the south suburbs and the reconstruction of the 50-year-old Jane Addams tollway to Rockford.
The toll would increase 35 cents for I-Pass users at a typical mainline toll plaza, with cash-paying passenger vehicles continuing to pay double the I-Pass rate. I-Pass users comprise 75 percent of the tollway’s 1.4 million daily users.
The hike would be the first toll increase in 28 years.
Officials said the proposed increase -- typically from 40 cents to 75 cents -- would bring the cost of a car trip on the tollway system for an average I-Pass customer to $1.18. That's up from today’s average of 63 cents per trip and an increase of $2.75 a week, or $11 a month.
Officials said the tollway would still rank 29 among the 41 toll road agencies in the United States in terms of price -– in the bottom third with an average of just 6 cents per mile.
A commercial vehicle increase approved by the tollway board in 2008 will remain in place. Commercial rates are scheduled to increase a total of 60 percent between 2015 and 2017, and will be tied to the consumer price index beginning in 2018.
In return, the agency says it will be able to launch a program that will create jobs, stimulate the economy, provide better travel conditions and relieve congestion.
The proposed capital plan is more than twice as big as the tollway’s last one, which was unveiled under the Blagojevich administration and saw the rebuilding of most of the tollway system.
The plan includes reconstructing the Addams (I-90) as a “21st century, state-of-the-art corridor” linking Rockford to O’Hare International Airport. The plan would also incorporate mass transit.
The new interchange would connect the Tri-State Tollway (I-294) near Markham to I-57 -– one of the few places in the nation where interstates cross but do not connect.
The plan would also fund a new Elgin-O’Hare west bypass that may someday provide western access to the airport.
Also included is money for planning studies for the extension of Illinois Route 53 and the Illiana Expressway, which would link I-57 in Illinois with I-65 inIndiana.
“Communities throughout the region are advocating for new transportation projects with increasing urgency,” said Illinois Tollway Executive Director Kristi Lafleur. “Illinois residents, business owners, planners, elected officials and others understand that new roads can improve quality of life by saving people time and money, creating jobs and stimulating local economies.”
Officials predict the proposed capital plan will create more than 120,000 permanent jobs and add $21 billion to the economy.
In addition to the proposed new highways and interchange, the plan includes:
• Reconstructing and widening the 52-year-old Jane Addams Memorial Tollway (I-90) from the Tri-State Tollway (I-294) to Rockford.
• Reconstructing more than 20 miles of the central Tri-State Tollway (I-294) and the Edens Spur (I-94).
• Preserving the Reagan Memorial Tollway (I-88) .
• Preserving the Veterans Memorial Tollway (I-355) .
• Repairing roads, bridges and maintenance facilities.
• Other capital projects, including local interchanges.
Details of the capital plan and toll increase will be presented at a series of public hearings in the 12 counties served by the tollway.
August 18, 7-9 p.m.
-- Cook County: Chicago Ridge City Hall, 10455 S. Ridgeland Avenue, Chicago Ridge
-- DuPage County: DuPage County Government Center, 421 N. County Farm Road, Wheaton.
-- Kane County: Kane County Government Center, 719 S. Batavia Avenue, Building A, Geneva.
-- Will County: Village of New Lenox, 1 Veterans Parkway, New Lenox
August 19, 7-9 p.m.
-- Boone County: Community Building, 111 W. 1st Street, Belvidere
-- DeKalb County: NIU Convocation Center, 1525 W. Lincoln Highway, DeKalb
--Lake County: Libertyville Civic Center, 135 W. Church Street, Libertyville
-- McHenry County: Village of Huntley, 10987 Main Street, Huntley
August 22, 7-9 p.m.
-- Lee County: Comfort Inn, 154 Plaza Drive, Dixon
-- Ogle County: Comfort Inn & Suites, 1122 N. Seventh Street, Rochelle
-- Whiteside County: Sterling Municipal Building, 212 3rd Avenue, Sterling
-- Winnebago County: Clock Tower Resort, 7801 E. State Street, Rockford
The tollway board is scheduled to vote on the capital plan and proposed toll increase at its Aug. 25 meeting.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times