Tollway Director Fights Price Hikes
Tollway Director Bill Morris called the proposed 87.5 percent toll increase to fund a $12 billion capital plan "too ambitious and too costly."
Bill Morris of Grayslake was the lone tollway director to vote against the proposed 35 to 45 cent toll increase to pay for a $12 billion, 15-year capital plan. In his mind, it is too large of an increase with too few details known about exactly how the money would be spent.
“The devil is in the details,” said Morris, a tollway director for the past two years who voted against the proposed 87.5 percent toll increase that would affect motorists in both cash and I-Pass lanes.
An overview of the plans was released July 28, detailing which roads are slated for improvements.
“All of us agree that taking care of the system, making sure that it is smooth and safe, is key,” Morris said. “My question is just that some apparently feel that we can make this a broad plan to increase tolls 87.5 percent without knowing all of the nitty-gritty details."
He believes the top priority should be reconstructing and widening the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway (Interstate 90) from Interstate 294 to Rockford. The remaining plans, Morris said, should be studied at length before proceeding.
He questioned whether the overall $12 billion estimated cost is the high-end or the low-end estimate. The figure does not include extending Route 53 into Lake County, which has been proposed and debated for nearly 50 years.
In any case, Morris said that the tolls do need to increase, but he felt that the requested increase is too much at this time.
“I don’t think this toll increase is warranted,” Morris said.
He prefers a much more modest increase of 10 to 20 cents to immediately tackle the improvements to the Jane Addams. Once that is completed in a few years, Morris said, then the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority could look at the next piece of the roadway puzzle.
“I think the (proposed) financing is too big and too grandiose,” Morris said.
Information from the tollway board says that the capital improvement plans are "designed to provide better travel conditions, relieve congestion, create jobs, stimulate the economy, and will be financed by bonds backed by a proposed toll rate increase for passenger vehicles."
Members of the public are invited to attend one of the 14 public hearings on the toll increases:
Aug. 18, 4-6 p.m.
- Kane County — Kane County Government Center, 719 S. Batavia Ave., Building A, Geneva
Aug. 18, 7-9 p.m.
- Cook County — Chicago Ridge City Hall, 10455 S. Ridgeland Ave., Chicago Ridge
- DuPage County — DuPage County Government Center, 421 N. County Farm Road, Wheaton
- Will County — Village of New Lenox, 1 Veterans Parkway, New Lenox
Aug. 19, 7-9 p.m.
- Boone County — Community Building, 111 W. 1st St., Belvidere
- DeKalb County — NIU-Convocation Center, 1525 W. Lincoln Highway, DeKalb
- Lake County — Libertyville Civic Center, 135 W. Church St., Libertyville
- McHenry County — Village of Huntley, 10987 Main St., Huntley
Aug. 22, 7-9 p.m.
- Lee County — Comfort Inn, 154 Plaza Drive, Dixon
- Ogle County — Comfort Inn & Suites, 1122 N. Seventh St., Rochelle
- Whiteside County — Sterling Municipal Building, 212 3rd Ave., Sterling
- Winnebago County — Clock Tower Resort, 7801 E. State St., Rockford
Aug. 23, 4-6 p.m.
- Cook County — Schaumburg Prairie Center for the Arts, 201 Schaumburg Court, Schaumburg
Aug. 23, 7-9 p.m.
- Lake County — Buffalo Grove Village Hall, 50 Raupp Blvd., Buffalo Grove
“Public input is integral to this capital planning process,” Illinois State Toll Highway Board Chairwoman Paula Wolff said in a statement. “We are using virtual, online and in-person communication methods and have scheduled the in-person meetings at times and places that are intended to be convenient for people, including some evenings and some afternoons."
She added that members of the tollway board will attend these hearings and review all the public comments submitted.
Visit www.illinoistollway.com for more information.