Illinois Tollway Improvement Plan calls for toll hikes for trucks

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Illinois Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich recently unveiled an Illinois Tollway Improvement Plan that will include the introduction of Green Lanes and interchange construction. Building on the Tollway’s current Congestion-Relief Program, the second phase – Tomorrow’s Transportation Today – is a $1.8 billion project designed to continue congestion-relief efforts, improve the environment and enhance mobility across Northern Illinois.

The plan would be financed by bonds backed by a modest toll increase for commercial vehicles, and variable tolls rates to be established for single-occupant passenger vehicles using new Green Lanes that promote carpooling and public transit, and are designed to provide a free flow of traffic to reduce excessive acceleration and breaking, which cuts emissions. Commercial vehicles would see a rate increase in 2015; beginning in 2016, commercial rates would be tied to the Consumer Price Index.

The Illinois Tollway will host a public hearing regarding the plan this month, and also will host a series of public hearings in all 12 impacted counties in the coming months regarding the proposed toll rate changes. The Illinois Tollway board of directors will vote at the November Board Meeting on the proposed Congestion-Relief Program Phase Two – Tomorrow’s Transportation Today – and accompanying funding plan.

“At a time when Illinoisans are more environmentally conscious and want to save money on their commute, I am proud to announce that we will be constructing Green Lanes on the Illinois Tollway,” Blagojevich says. “Not only will these Green Lanes and new interchanges help commuters, but will also pay real dividends to Illinois’ communities and businesses through massive new business development.”

Projects in the Congestion-Relief Program include:

  • 80 miles of dedicated Green Lanes offering access to buses and ride-sharing commuters at regular I-PASS rates and providing single-occupant and environmentally friendly vehicles access at premium prices – $400 million; and
  • Critical Interstate-to-Interstate interchanges – Jane Addams Memorial Tollway (I-90)/I-290/State Route 53 Interchange, Tri-State Tollway (I-294)/I-57 Interchange, and systemwide local interchange projects – $1.4 billion.
  • “The Illinois Tollway has the solid financial foundation and the engineering capabilities to immediately begin the process of building these long-awaited interchange improvement projects,” says Tollway Chairman John Mitola. “In addition, the introduction of Green Lanes reduces our impact on the environment, while saving drivers time and money. Investing in car pool programs now will help commuters cost their costs at the gas pump and on the road for years to come.”