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Higher tolls and construction loom for Illinois Tollway

The loose change stuck between car seats might not cut it anymore — at least for drivers zipping along the Illinois Tollway system. Drivers on Illinois Tollways will have to pay more to use them starting at midnight Jan. 1.

Motorists with an I-PASS will pay 35 cents more per toll at a typical toll plaza. But rate hikes will vary by road, toll plaza and ramp.

One thing that will not change is the discount I-PASS users get. They'll save 50 percent more per toll than customers who pay with cash.

Money collected from the increased toll rates will help to fund a 15-year road work program. Construction for 2012 will cost $609 million and involve most major toll-roads passing through Chicago.

The first road work is expected to start in early spring. That will be on I-294, otherwise known as the Tri-State Tollway, as well as I-88, also called the Reagan Memorial Tollway.

Some frustrated Chicago area drivers say they'll find new routes and tack on extra time to their workday commutes, rather than pay higher tolls on the state's 286-mile Illinois Tollway. An estimated 1.4 million drivers use it daily.

—The Associated Press contributed to this report

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