Gov. Rauner pushing to add toll lanes to I-55

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Time is running out for a plan to bring toll-lanes to I-55. Governor Bruce Rauner asked Springfield on Monday to take action. (WLS)

Time is running out for a plan to bring toll-lanes to I-55. Governor Bruce Rauner asked Springfield on Monday to take action.

The governor spoke in McCook, Ill., on Monday at the IDOT Depot.

He pushed for lawmakers to vote "yes" to his plan to add toll lanes within the existing median of the Stevenson between interstates 3-55 and 90-94.

The idea is that people could pay to take a less congested lane and it would cut down on traffic jams on I-55.

But some drivers said they don't think the toll lanes would be much faster, and they're not willing to fork over cash to shave a few min off their commute.

"Yeah, that's probably not something I'd spend my money on. Five minutes wouldn't make a difference to me," Dominique Smith said.

"I don't think people would go for it because they don't want to pay more money for not that much of a benefit; I don't think you'd get into downtown much quicker," Bob Vashinko said.

The Department of Transportation secretary is supporting the plan and said right now this corridor accommodates 170,000 vehicles a day; that's expected to increase to 250,000 by 2040. With 10 hours of congestion a day, the situation on I-55 is bad and getting worse.

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan released a statement responding to Governor Rauner's proposal to privatize a toll lane on I-55:

"Where possible, we have been willing to work with the Governor on various parts of his agenda this spring including selling of the Thompson Center in Chicago and the reorganization he wants to do within state government. Our concern with private investors being involved in a toll lane is that, once again, it seems as though Governor Rauner is more interested in helping his wealthy friends. Despite multiple requests for information over several months, IDOT hasn't prepared a plan that would lay out the costs, results, and anticipated tolls. IDOT hasn't provided any evidence demonstrating that this project will save taxpayer dollars or result in better maintained roads. We continue to await this information."

The deadline for legislators to vote on this plan is April 1. The estimated cost of construction for the project is $400 million.

The governor said he doesn't understand the delay.

"Have you ever read baloney before?" Rauner said in response to Madigan's statement.
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