Illinois Tollway adds I-PASS lanes to woo back truckers

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The Illinois Tollway will add new mixed-use I-PASS-only lanes at five toll plazas on the central Tri-State Tollway so that truckers will save time and money in the wake of a Jan. 1 toll increase.

The extra lanes on the Tri-State Tollway, or Interstate 294, result from ongoing coordination with the Illinois Trucking Association, tollway authorities said in a statement.

The two parties also are considering ways to make rest areas more accessible so that truckers can more easily take advantage of off-peak toll discounts.

Tollway administrators are trying to keep truckers from using other nearby roads to avoid tolls that were increased to help fund a $5.3 billion plan to rebuild 90 percent of the tollway, add lanes, convert 20 mainline toll plazas to barrier-free Open Road Tolling, and extend I-355 South to I-80 in Will County.

Tollway studies indicate truckers using I-PASS cut 20 minutes of travel time round trip on the Tri-State Tollway between Wisconsin and Indiana. The Midwest Truckers Association says truckers can cut operating costs $25 for every 15-minute reduction in trip time.

Work should be complete in March on a second mixed-use I-PASS-only lane at the 82nd Street, 83rd Street and Irving Park toll plazas and in both directions at the Cermak toll plazas.

The Illinois Tollway operates the Ronald Reagan Memorial Tollway (I-88), the North-South Tollway (I-355), the Northwest Tollway (I-90) and the Tri-State Tollway (I-94, I-294, I-80/I-294).