DOWNERS GROVE, Ill. – Following the overwhelming success of the 2003 I-PASS Expansion Project, which reduced congestion at 37 toll plazas on the Illinois Tollway, Gov. Rod. R. Blagojevich today announced plans to reduce travel times for Illinois Tollway customers in 2004 with 69 new and improved I-PASS lanes at 40 toll plazas systemwide.
The 2004 I-PASS enhancements will introduce 32 I-PASS Only lanes in new ramp locations and will add 37 I-PASS Only lanes at ramp and mainline toll plazas already offering dedicated I-PASS Only lanes. The 2004 I-PASS Expansion Project also includes funding to begin planning and design work to create I-PASS Express lanes on the Northwest Tollway (I-90) and the Tri-State Tollway (I-94).
“We’ve seen time and time again that I-PASS improvements on the Illinois Tollway are improving convenience and saving drivers time – time that they would rather spend with family and friends,” said Gov. Blagojevich. “The success of the Tollway’s efforts to market I-PASS and add more dedicated lanes shows that the Illinois Tollway is following my mandates to run more like a business and to use technology to make people’s lives easier.”
The 69 new I-PASS Only lanes at 40 locations are scheduled to be complete in 2004, and include the construction of additional toll collection lanes at Farnsworth Road on the East-West Tollway (I-88) and Route 31 on the Northwest Tollway to allow for dedicated I-PASS Only lanes. Additional toll collection lanes are needed to reduce traffic backups during rush hour and allow for the addition of the new I-PASS Only lanes.
In addition, new Mixed-Use I-PASS Only lanes will be added at the York Road Toll Plaza in each direction on the East-West Tollway and eight Truck I-PASS Only lanes at six toll plazas on the Tri-State Tollway (I94/I-294) will be permanently opened up for use by cars as well as trucks. Every mainline toll plaza on the Illinois Tollway system and most ramp toll plazas will have at least one dedicated I-PASS Only lane when the 2004 work is complete. (See attached list and map for new I-PASS Only lane locations.)
“Over the past year, we have proven that I-PASS is the Tollway’s number one congestion relief tool,” said Illinois Tollway Executive Director Jack Hartman. “Overall, I-PASS customers are shaving 5 to 10 minutes off their commutes as a direct result of the 2003 I-PASS improvements. The 2004 I-PASS Expansion Project continues our efforts to increase the advantages of having an I-PASS and to further increase I-PASS usage.”
Due to the aggressive marketing efforts and doubling of I-PASS Only lanes in the past year, I-PASS use has increased to 48 percent of revenue collected systemwide, compared to the 38 percent I-PASS collection rate in December 2002. During rush hour, 52.5 percent of all tolls collected were through I-PASS. There are currently nearly 1.2 million active I-PASS transponders on the Illinois Tollway.
How the I-PASS Program Works
When signing up for the I-PASS program, customers pay a $10 refundable deposit fee for the I-PASS transponder and open their pre-paid toll account with a minimum of $40. Customers registering online use payment by credit card, which also automatically replenishes their pre-paid toll accounts when the balance drops below $10. In addition, I-PASS transponders are now available at 200 Jewel-Osco stores throughout northern Illinois, as well as Jewel-Osco stores in Northwest Indiana and Kenosha, Wisconsin. These transponders are pre-loaded with $40 in tolls that the customer activates by calling 1-800-926-6500.
I-PASS users can pay tolls without having money on hand, rolling down the window, waiting for traffic or, at mainline toll plazas, stopping. The Illinois Tollway offers 85 dedicated I-PASS lanes including I-PASS Express lanes and I-PASS Only lanes. I-PASS also can be used at all manual or automatic toll collection lanes at all 65 toll plazas on the Illinois Tollway System.
About the Illinois Tollway
The Illinois State Toll Highway Authority maintains and operates 274 miles of interstate tollways in 12 counties in Northern Illinois, including the East-West Tollway (I-88), the North-South Tollway (I-355), the Northwest Tollway (I-90) and the Tri-State Tollway (I-94, I-294, I-80/I-294). The Illinois Tollway offers customers I-PASS electronic toll collection for congestion relief and ease of travel. Customers can buy an I-PASS at Jewel-Osco or online at www.getipass.com, where existing I-PASS customers now can also manage their account online. Get I-PASS and Get Going!