Kane Residents Speak out on the Toll Increase Plan
Bauer, Natalie, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Byline: Natalie Bauer Daily Herald Staff Writer
Kane County residents expressed mixed feelings Wednesday night about the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority's proposed toll increases.
" (The tollway system) was supposed to be paid for a long time ago," St. Charles resident Early Johnson said, referring to the tolls' original purpose in repaying construction loans. "It's a scam. It's a joke."
But Woodie Griffin, a 52-year-old St. Charles resident, had a different view.
"Nothing is free," Griffin said. "We pay for everything in this country. It's just a question of how."
About 40 people attended the public hearing in Geneva to voice their opposition or support for the proposal. The Kane County meeting was one of 12 being held in counties across the state that have access to the tollway system.
Tollway officials announced in March that the increases to 75 cents from the standard 40- and 50-cent tolls would fund a $5.5 billion systemwide reconstruction and widening program that would take 15 years to complete, ending in 2017.
The plans include rebuilding 234 miles of the 274-mile system, adding 194 miles of lanes, reconstructing and widening bridges, and building 72 I-PASS lanes.
The reconstruction, officials say, would mean less traffic congestion and smoother rides.
But for some at the hearing, smoother roads and less traffic mean a greater economic burden on the people who can least afford to pay the higher toll.
Paul Abelson, representing the Illinois Trucking Association, said the trucking industry would be hit especially hard by the toll increase and would encourage commercial fleets to use alternative routes, which in turn would shift the burden of maintenance and repair costs onto the government agencies who oversee those roadways. …