Move Over Illinois, Car Pool Lanes Coming

Tollway hopes to ease congestion

The Illinois Tollway board Thursday approved a proposal to spend $400 million on a project that’s supposed to ease congestion and reduce emissions.

With predictions that some two million more people will live in northern Illinois by 2030, they're hoping the new plan will help put more drivers into the fast lane.

It's all part of the $1.87 billion tollway improvement plan, unveiled last month, which includes the introduction of "Green Lanes," lanes for buses and ride-sharers, and new interchange construction.

Under the approved plan, one carpool lane will be added to each of the Chicago area's four tollways: Interstate 294, Interstate 355, Interstate 90 and Interstate 88. Those cars that have at least two occupants would pay the normal toll price to use the lane.

"If two people carpool, that's a car off the other lanes. If three people carpool, that's two cars out of the other lanes. Everybody wins," Illinois Tollway Authority John Mitola said.

The rules for vehicles with just a driver will be a little different.

"If you're not registered, and you hop in that lane as a single driver, you're going to be paying more," Mitola said.

Drivers of hybrid vehicles would pay a special, reduced price to use the lanes.

Tollway officials said the main goal is to ease congestion, but they said they are already looking for ways to make sure drivers follow the rules.

"We'll have police enforcement (and) camera enforcement to be sure that they're not lying about carpooling," Illinois Tollway Authority John Mitola said.

Washington, California and Minnesota already have carpool programs similar to the one proposed for Illinois.

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