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Tollway rip-off

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Topics:  Interstate Highway System

Tollway rip-off

Gus Philpott
Woodstock Advocate
March 27, 2013

This morning I was preparing directions for a friend who will be traveling from east to west and stopping by for a visit. Can you guess how much the cash tolls are now on the Illinois Tollway if you "go around" the Loop?

Try $7.50!

Right! $7.50 in cash tolls for one trip from the south end of Chicago on I-294, I-290 and I-90 to Huntley. Seven dollars and fifth cents!

Why does the Tollway charge that? Because they can. Because people don't turn out in droves to protest. Because people don't find alternate routes. Because people don't boycott the Tollway. And because Tollway folks made it "painless" for people to pay tolls electronically. And then they jacked up the fees with a simple programming step.

Of course, I am recommending that he avoid the Chicago Skyway and then come through the Chicago Loop on I-90/94. That way he'll get nicked for only $3.00 in cash tolls. Fortunately, his schedule is such that he'll be going through Chicago on a week-end and well out of daytime rush hour.

Who was around here, when the Illinois Tollway was first pitched? Wasn't it supposed to be free after initial bonds were paid off?

Has such a pitch (tolls, then free) ever been made and carried out? Yes. The Boulder (Colorado) Turnpike was established as a toll road in 1952. In 1967 toll booths were removed. Imagine that!

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