Toll Hike, Construction Looms in Illinois

What will higher Illinois tolls buy you? Construction

Days before the Illinois Tollway hikes fares, the agency set out reminding drivers what they'll get in return for a tighter pocketbook.

Back in August the Tollway voted to raise fares from 40 cents to 75 cents for I-PASS users, and 80 cents to $1.50 for cash customers. The hike takes effect at midnight Jan. 1 as part of a new $12 billion capital program to repair and rebuild roadways, bridges and interchanges across the 286-mile system during the next 15 years.

The immediate impact? Construction.

In 2012, the tollway plans to start building two all-electronic interchanges, including the new I-294/I-57. It also will spend $29.6 million to construct new embankments and lengthen I-294 bridges over 147th Street. Construction begins on ramps to and from Champaign, as well.

"We want our customers to know about the construction planned in 2012 and how their tolls are being reinvested in the Tollway system," said Illinois Tollway Executive Director Kristi Lafleur in a statement Tuesday.

Next steps include spending an estimated $47.2 million to begin constructing the new Route 47 interchange on I-90, including new ramps, electronic toll collection and bridge reconstruction.

More than $137 million will be spent on the Tri-State Tollway for road resurfacing and ramp repairs, $90.5 million will be used on I-88 and $23.7 million will be invested in ramp and lighting repairs throughout I-355.

Had enough? It doesn't stop there.

An estimated $98.8 million will be spent on the reconstruction and widening of bridges through the I-90 corridor and for shoulder improvements from Randall Road in Elgin to Mill Road in Rockford to prepare for the widening of I-90. They'll also use $14.9 million to fund bridge design on the Elgin O'Hare Expressway between Route 20 and Rohlwing Road.

The first of the projects begins in early spring on I-294 and I-88.

A circuit court judge recently dismissed a lawsuit filed by Taxpayers United of America challenging the hike.

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