Illinois Plans Toll Road Within a Toll Road
Illinois Governor Rod R. Blagojevich (D) has revealed plans to create “High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes” on the Illinois Tollway system. “I am proud to announce that we will be constructing Green Lanes on the Illinois Tollway,” Blagojevich said in a statement. “Not only will these Green Lanes and new interchanges help commuters, but will also pay real dividends to Illinois’ communities and businesses through massive new business development.” The Illinois Green Lane project promises to reduce road congestion by establishing three classes of motorist. Group one: carpools registered with government authorities. They could use the privileged lanes after paying the regular Illinois toll rates. Group Two: drivers in politically favored vehicles designated as “green.” They have the option of paying regular Illinois toll rates plus a reduced “variable fee” to use the Green Lanes. Group three: everybody else. These third-class motorists could use the Green Lanes by paying regular Illinois toll rates plus a full, second toll that would increase during the most congested hours. The impact of “Tomorrow’s Transportation Today” program after the jump…
By taking over lanes currently dedicated to general purpose traffic, the plan guarantees that cars not paying the extra toll will experience increased congestion. by design. On the Tri-State Tollway, for example, the plan would reduce capacity for the regular toll lanes by twenty-five percent. This, Illinois officials argue, would provide an incentive to drivers to either pay the special fees or purchase the favored vehicles needed to avoid the new congestion.
The infrastructure required to administer the complex program and designate existing lanes as “Green Lanes” will cost an estimated $400m on a 41-mile stretch of Interstate 294. To help defray the expenses, the governor’s plan calls for a sixty-percent toll hike on commercial vehicles used by businesses throughout the state. After the first increase, the rate will increase yearly at an amount tied to the inflation rate. Although the rate hikes are not scheduled to go into effect until 2015, Blagojevich will spend that money today by issuing bonds that borrow against the expected future returns. Blagojevich also promised to use state police and high-tech automated cameras to enforce the new lane restrictions, generating additional revenue.
“We’re going to enforce some of those who try to get around this law with phony blow up dolls,” Blagojevich told WGN radio yesterday. “They have a new technology that can actually sensor that. So any scofflaw who has a blow up doll in his or her car, beware.” (ED: Damn!)
There will be one public hearing on the new proposal before the Illinois Tollway Board of Directors votes to approve the project in November. Green Lane tolling is scheduled to begin in 2010, starting with the heaviest traveled routes in the state.
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@fourbangersforbidden: What's up my fellow I-294 commuter! If I rear end you in stop and go traffic during a miserable cold and rainy rush hour grind home, it's just my way of saying hello!
@CoffeeJones: Sounds good! My rear bumper is all messed up anyways, so feel free to say Hi! Seriously though, I don't know how much more of this traffic I can take. Sometimes, I'm in over 2 hrs of traffic just on my way home!!