New Illinois Tollway relief package reduces costs of unpaid tolls, fines

CHICAGO (WLS) -- More people will be heading back to work once Illinois enters a new reopening phase on Friday, and that means more traffic.

There's no doubt traffic volumes have been ticking up, but the biggest change you'll see in Phase Four of Gov. JB Pritzker's reopening plan is a new tollway reform package. It'll give drivers some relief with unpaid tolls and outstanding fines.

"This is about us finding ways to really improve our customer service, and this is something that was just long overdue," said Illinois Tollway Executive Director Jose Alvarez. "We believe that by putting this reform in place, it'll not only bring equity to our customers, but it will be beneficial for both the customer and the organization."

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When the cash lanes closed in March as a safety precaution during the COVID-19 pandemic, it caught drivers without iPass off guard.

Starting now, the fee for a toll that goes unpaid after 2 weeks drops from $20 to $3. For the remainder of the year, fines for any outstanding tolls will be reduced from $20 or $50 per toll to $3. Any unpaid tolls that occurred during the stay-at-home order won't receive any fines or fees.

Traffic volumes on the tollways are continuing to rise, after being down 55% for cars and 20% for trucks during the COVID-19 peak in April.

Expressway traffic is also getting heavier, but the Illinois Department of Transportation says it's too soon to predict what those patterns will look like in Phase Four.

Some people will continue to work from home. Others may only go into the office a couple of days a week, but drivers should still allow extra time moving forward.

"I think during the stay-at-home, obviously, we all got a little spoiled with less traffic," said IDOT spokesperson Maria Castaneda. "We were able to get where we needed, to go much faster. As more cars get on the road, it's definitely going to increase that time."

Another thing to be aware of is new construction that wasn't there several months ago. Be sure to bring your patience along, as you return to the roads.

For more information about the new tollway reforms, visit the Illinois Tollway website.
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