Illinois Toll Hike Approved 7-1

The increase ranges from 35 to 45 cents at most toll plazas for I-Pass users

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    A proposed toll increase was approved Thursday by the Illinois Tollway Board to help fund a proposed $12 billion, 15-year capital improvement plan

    After reviewing residents' comments from 15 public hearings, the board voted 7-1 in favor of the plan.

    The increase ranges from 35 to 45 cents at most toll plazas for I-Pass users. The Tollway estimates the average driver will spend an average $132 more a year on tolls.

    Not everyone's happy about the hike. Mike Hart, of the Illinois Trucking Association said, "If you keep raising prices, we can't use the tollway."

    But some say they're OK with the increase in exchange for the approximately 120,000 permanent jobs the project promises to create.

    Commuter Carmen Dean said Thursday she won't mind the extra cost if it means more people employed. "This just doesn't scream jobs," Dean said before the vote. "It screams sustainable jobs."

    The capital plan aims to rebuild the 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.

    The 35-cent increase nearly doubles the 40 cents drivers have paid since the 1980s.

    The new fares will go into effect Jan. 1, 2012.