Ill. Toll Authority approves fee hikes

August 25, 2011 (DOWNERS GROVE, Ill.)

The Illinois Tollway Authority met Thursday at 10 a.m. at tollway headquarters in Downers Grove and approved a toll hike.

With the increase, the average car trip on the tollway system for an I-Pass customer goes up to $1.18 from the previous average of 63 cents per trip. That's an increase of $2.75 a week or $11 a month. It represents the first toll increase in 28 years for I-Pass users, who comprise 75 percent of the Illinois Tollway's 1.4 million daily users. Cash-paying users will pay nearly double.

Jillian Rollinger just got a brand new I-Pass. She just started a job in Schaumburg and will rely on the pass five days a week. But now, the 22-year-old Chicagoan is preparing to dig a bit deeper to pay for a toll hike.

"How do I feel about it? I would say that doesn't feel very good," she said.

"I commute every day from the city into the suburbs. I'm a teacher. That's going to be ridiculous," said Cammy Rae.

"It sounds like it's necessary to finance some of the ongoing projects," said Don Cronin, commuter. "But my work pays for my toll, so I feel less hit as much as other people are going to."

"The tollway has not had a general toll increase since 1983. At that time, The Chicago Tribune cost 25 cents. Today, the Tribune costs $1," said Ill. Gov. Pat Quinn.

Quinn said he believes improving the 52-year-old tollway system will ease congestion and lead to more jobs. The increase in the tolls would fund a $12 billion, 15-year capital improvement plan. It would go to a number of projects, including an interchange between I-57 and I-294 and reconstruction and widening along I-90.

At the public hearings hosted by the Illinois Tollway Authority, many echoed the same feelings.

"We are urging you to pass it because it is needed for economic growth and recovery," said Quinn.

Critics of the plan say the tolls are already high, and commercial truckers who pay higher tolls say they will be forced to use local, congested roads to save money.

"It's a lot, you know? When you ask for a raise, they say, you know, we got to pay this and we got to pay this. Everything's going up except for pay. Pay is not going up," said truck driver Andrew Castillo.

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