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 .

“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 CountyLibertyville Civic Center, 135 W. Church St., Libertyville
  • McHenry CountyVillage 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 CountyBuffalo 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.

Mariel August 05, 2011 at 03:25 PM
We desperately need to replace eroded infrastructure systems across the state. The 2009 Illinois capital plan and its already-approved funding mechanisms spur local revenue, jobs and investment. To learn more about the capital plan and its impact, please visit www.BacktoWorkIllinois.com
Mike August 09, 2011 at 03:43 PM
You don't widen a road to create jobs. You widen a road based on the need and justification for widening it. Also, there should be limits on the amount spent for a defined project. Any unused funds should go into escrow for the next JUSTIFIED project.
Mike August 09, 2011 at 03:46 PM
Justify the project. The justification cannot include "spur local revenue, jobs and investment."


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