CHICAGO – Making good on his plan to offer Illinoisans the choice to save money on their commutes and be more environmentally conscious, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today announced that he has approved the second phase of Tollways’ Congestion-Relief Program – Tomorrow’s Transportation Today, a $1.8 billion dollar plan, which will allow the Tollway to sell bonds needed to finance the development of a Green Lanes Plan and implementation of an Interchange Improvement Program included in Phase Two. The plan approved by the Governor will invest in Illinois jobs and will play a significant role in reducing congestion and cutting down on emissions that contribute to climate change.
“I have approved the Green Lanes plan because it builds on exactly what I have been trying to do here in Illinois – focus on building infrastructure that expands our economy, get people to work and help to alleviate the financial burden families across the state may feel during this rough economic time,” said Governor Blagojevich. “But, not only will Green Lanes help the workers of Illinois keep extra money in their pockets by saving money on their commutes, it will also offer Illinoisans the choice to be more environmentally conscious by reducing the amount of cars on the road and ultimately reducing emissions.”
The Governor’s approval of Tomorrow’s Transportation Today allows for planning to begin on the new $1.8 billion capital effort. Phase Two will run concurrently with the Tollway’s current $6.3 Capital Program, which has already delivered Open Road Tolling, a 12.5 mile extension of the Veterans Memorial Tollway (I-355), and will complete the rebuild and widening of 16 miles of the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway (I-90), 20 miles of the Reagan Memorial Tollway (I-88) and 62 miles of the Tri-State Tollway (I-94/I-294/I-80) by 2010.
Projects in Tomorrow’s Transportation Today include:
· A Green Lanes Plan offering access to buses and ride-sharing commuters at regular I-PASS rates and providing single-occupant and environmentally friendly vehicles access at premium prices - $400 million.
· An Interchange Improvement Program to provide critical Interstate-to-Interstate interchanges - Jane Addams Memorial Tollway (I-90)/I-290-IL Route 53 Interchange, Tri-State Tollway (I-294)/I-57 Interchange, and move forward systemwide local interchange projects – $1.4 billion.
The Tollway will develop a program to introduce Green Lanes into the heaviest-used segments of its existing roadways, investing up to $400 million to promote carpooling and public transit in lanes which ensure free flowing traffic. Reducing excessive acceleration and breaking typical of congestion, cuts emissions and reduces gas consumption. Tolls will be deducted electronically from vehicles; car pool drivers and buses will pay the current I-PASS rate, while single-occupancy vehicles will pay a premium rate to use the free-flow lanes. To encourage environmentally responsible vehicles and congestion reduction, drivers of hybrids, electric or fuel cell vehicles, as well as those with high m.p.g. ratings will have access to the Green Lanes for a variable fee. Green lanes will begin to be implemented in 2010.
Interchange Improvement Program
The Illinois Tollway will build/improve two crucial interchanges on the Tri-State Tollway at (I-294)/I-57 and on the James Addams Memorial Tollway at (I-90)/I-290-IL Route 53, and the Tollway will invest in new or expanded arterial interchanges. On the Tri-State Tollway, the Tollway will invest up to $500 million to build a new interchange at one of the few points in the nation where Interstates cross, but do not connect. The Tollway will also invest up to $500 million into the redesign and construction of an interchange at the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway (I-90) and I-290/IL Route 53 to reduce area congestion due to decades of explosive regional growth. Finally, decisions on which new arterial interchanges will be built hinge on negotiations with individual communities and the Tollway Interchange Cost Share Policy which requires a 50 percent cost share between the Tollway and the involved community.
The $1.8 billion plan will be financed by bonds backed by toll revenues and a modest toll increase for commercial vehicles, and variable toll rates to be established for single-occupant passenger vehicles using the Green Lanes. The Illinois Tollway has not increased tolls for passenger vehicles using I-PASS in more than 25 years and has one of the lowest toll rate per mile in the nation. The Tollway is a user-fee system and does not receive any state or federal gas taxes, only those who use the Tollway pay for it.
As part of the funding plan for CRP Phase Two, commercial vehicles will see a 60 percent rate increase phased in over 2015-2017 as improvements promised by CRP Phase Two are delivered. Beginning in 2018 commercial rates will be tied to the CPI. The Illinois Tollway will work with regional transportation and transit experts as well as review best practices from states with managed lanes nationwide to develop a program that will allow transit vehicles and car pool drivers to pay current I-PASS rates, as well as create a variable rate fee structure for the new Green Lanes.