Commuters Get Say on Proposed Toll Hike

Got an opinion about proposed toll increases? Fourteen public hearings began Thursday

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Julia Buckley

    Public hearings began Thursday for drivers concerned about a toll hike proposed to help fund the $12 billion capital project pitched last month by the Illinois Tollway Authority.

    The program promises major improvements to the state's 52-year-old Tollway system, including widening lanes on I-90, making a bypass around O'Hare Airport and extending the Elgin-O'Hare Expressway east.

    "Seeing how the area has grown, it's something that we need," said one resident at Thursday's first public hearing.

    But not everyone's happy about the $.35 toll hike that comes with it.

    The increase would cost I-Pass users about $11 more per month, the Tollway said. Those paying cash would keep paying double the I-Pass amount.

    "Many of us haven't had a job or pay increase in three years and the gas costs have eaten us alive," one man said.

    Ten other hearings are scheduled through Tuesday, including two recently added in Schaumburg and Buffalo Grove.

    Illinois Tollway Board Chair Paula Wolff said she and other Tollway Board members will attend the meetings and review public comments.

    "Public input is integral to this capital planning process," Wolff said.

    If approved by the board, the new fares would go into effect Jan. 1, 2011.

    Quinn has kept mum on the issue in interviews, saying he wants to hear the public's opinion on it.