As 2013 dawns, the Illinois Tollway Authority is looking back and officials are reminding commuters about the many changes across the system last year.
The reconstruction of the I-294/I-90 Tri-Level Bridge, one of the most heavily-traveled interchanges on the Tollway system, was finished in September. It was a $13 million project with a pretty lengthy detour for drivers near O'Hare International Airport.
In addition, a massive construction effort began in the spring. Crews set to work on the I-57/I-294 Interchange Project, one of only two points in the nation where two interstates cross but don't connect. That's a hassle for many southland motorists, a problem that is now being addressed in the form of this $719 million undertaking.
As far as planning is concerned, big federal approval milestones were reached in the Tollway's bid to continue with the Elgin O'Hare Western Access Project. This is the long-discussed extension of the Elgin-O'Hare Expressway to the airport, checking in with a current budget of $3.4 billion.
“The Illinois Tollway set the wheels in motion on our most ambitious capital program ever, making progress toward preserving our existing system and preparing for new construction projects to begin in 2013,” Illinois Tollway Executive Director Kristi Lafleur said.
For toll violators, the authority decided to get tough. A new policy is in place to file lawsuits against the worst scofflaws as the agency attempts to recoup about $2.5 million in missed tolls.
As for technological advances, the Authority is touting its new online forms to contest toll violations. The form can be downloaded from the website and mailed in. This saves a call to the Customer Service Center and has been completed by about 8,000 motorists so far.
Also, you may recall that just before the busy Thanksgiving Weekend commute, the tollways started tweeting. Drivers can follow all of the tollways by searching "Tollway Trip" on Twitter. I-88, I-90, I-294, and I-355 all tweet out real-time traffic incidents.