State board could vote today on massive Illinois toll hike

August 25, 2011

(WBEZ/file)
The big toll bump would help fund an ambitious, $12 billion tollway construction plan.

Illinois drivers may soon see tollway fares nearly double, as the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority board could vote on the increase at a meeting Thursday.

The proposal would bump tolls for I-PASS users from 40 cents up to 75 cents - a nearly 86 percent increase. Drivers paying with cash would still have to shell out double the I-PASS amound, or $1.50.

The Illinois Tollway says all those extra quarters would add up to $12 billion to fund a massive, 15-year construction program. The plan calls for widening a long stretch of I-90, from near O'Hare Airport to Rockford. It would also finally allow for an interchange at the Tri-State Tollway and I-57 - two roads that cross each other, but don't connect.

For commuters, tollway officials say that would ultimately mean less time stuck in traffic. Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn, who gets to appoint tollway board members, has said he supports the increase. Supporters of the plan say it would also create much-needed construction jobs. But critics have reportedly said the toll hike is larger than what's needed to fund the road projects.

The tollway board meeting Thursday comes after several public hearings around the state. If the capital plan is approved, the hike would go into effect on the first of the year.