Gov. proposes carpool lanes for tollways

CHICAGO Carpool lanes are common in big cities on both coasts, but not in Illinois. That may soon change. Governor Rod Blagojevich announced the plan Wednesday morning. He calls it "tomorrow's transportation today." The governor says it will not only reduce congestion, he says it will also create thousands of new jobs over the next eight years.

If approved by the tollway board, the carpool lanes would cover 80 miles of Chicago-area tollways. The biggest stretch would be 41 miles along the Tri-State from Route 60 down to 95th Street. Several other tollways would also be affected.

Governor Blagojevich announced the plan Wednesday. He says adding the car pool lanes would accomplish three goals.

"We're going to reduce congestion, we're gonna reduce pollution, and we're gonna create jobs," said Governor Blagojevich.

Officials say the project will cost $1.8 billion. As part of the proposal, solo drivers would be able to use the lanes for an additional fee. Vehicles with two or more people would be able to use the lanes and pay the standard iPass rate.

The governor says the project will have a significant impact on the environment.

"In addition to the fact that there will be fewer cars on highways, there will be a reduction of carbon dioxide by 50 tons a day," said the governor. "That's the equivalent in the course of a year of actually planting 12,000 trees."

More than two dozen urban areas around the country use car pool lanes -- with mixed results.

Motorists ABC7 spoke with Wednesday morning are in favor of the governor's plan.

"I've been in plenty of other towns that have them, and it definitely opens up the road for you," said Ron Smith.

"I go to San Francisco all the time, and they've had them for years, and it's wonderful," said Beverly Kramer. "I think maybe people will share rides more, so I think it's a great idea."

Also announced Wednesday as part of the $1.8 billion proposal, the Illinois Tollway will build two new interchanges, one along the Tri-State at Interstate 294 and Interstate 57, and another along the Jane Addams Tollway at Interstate 90 and Interstate 290.

If the proposal is approved by the tollway board, the new carpool lanes could be open by 2010.

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