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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 28, 2001

Ryan Proposes Plan to Eliminate Tolls; Rebuild and Widen Crowded Roads

LOCKPORT -- Governor George H. Ryan today unveiled a comprehensive program that will close down toll booths on the 43-year-old toll highway system in Northeastern Illinois, rebuild crumbling sections of the system and construct the badly-needed south extension of Interstate 355 into Will County.

Standing with state and local officials from the south suburbs, Ryan said his No More Tolls! program is the first realistic and fiscally responsible plan that addresses the varied desires of motorists who use the 274-mile tollway system daily.

"By 2021, the toll roads will be safer; they will be less congested and they will be free," Ryan said. "Unlike previous plans to restructure the tollways, this program is realistic, financially responsible and leaves the system in better shape than it is today.

"This plan allows us to keep our promise to motorists in Northern Illinois. We're going to tear down all 69 toll booths. We're going to build the $700 million southern extension of the North-South Tollway from I-55 to I-80, reducing traffic congestion in the south suburbs," he added. "And, importantly, this plan allows us to start a $2.4 billion reconstruction program on major portions of the system that are more than 40 years old and are falling apart."

The governor said his plan will merge the Illinois State Toll Authority with the Department of Transportation by 2005, ensuring more taxpayer accountability.

Major aspects of the No More Tolls! program include:

  • Restructuring the finances of the Illinois Toll Highway Authority. The governor proposed that the General Assembly defease and refinance more than $800 million in bonds. Until this debt is restructured, the bond agreements prevent major changes to the system such as the elimination of toll booths.

  • Borrowing $1.2 billion in new funds to construct the Interstate 355 extension and to make long overdue repairs to the most congested parts of the system in Cook County, DuPage County, Lake County and Kane County. The debt for the system will total $1.5 billion and will be paid off completely by 2021.

  • Building the south extension of the North-South Tollway as a temporary toll road with one mainline plaza and four ramp plazas. The highway will be open to traffic in 2004.

  • Reconstructing more than 100 miles of older parts of the system between 2002 and 2011.

    TRI-STATE: 44 miles of reconstruction from Interstate 80 to Dempster, a new interchange at Devon Avenue, an improved interchange at Route 60, new lanes from the Borman Expressway to 95th Street and from Balmoral to Dempster.

    NORTHWEST: 40 miles of reconstructed road and new lanes from the Kennedy Expressway to Elgin, a new interchange at Route 173.

    EAST-WEST: 17 miles of reconstructed roads and new lanes from the Tri-State to Route 59, a new interchange at Eola Road.

  • Beginning in 2002, the systematic dismantling of 21 main toll collection plazas and the 48 ramp collection plazas. Toll booths at the outer edges of the system will be eliminated first to maximize revenues during the program.

    Between 2002 and 2006 - eliminate 16 plazas.

    Between 2007 and 2011 - eliminate 20 plazas.

    Between 2012 and 2016 - eliminate 17 plazas.

    Between 2017 and 2021 - eliminate 16 plazas.

  • Initiating an Incentive Toll Rate Schedule to encourage the use of the I-PASS electronic toll collection system, help reduce traffic tie-ups, and to provide a steady revenue stream for the program.The rates will be raised first on trucks and cash customers and I-PASS users will always pay less.

  • October, 2001 -- Cash customers pay 75 cents. Truckers see tolls go from $1.25 to $2.50. I-PASS users pay 40 cents.

  • 2003 -- I-PASS users pay 50 cents. Truckers pay $2.50. Cash customers pay 75 cents.

  • 2007 -- I-PASS users pay 65 cents. Truckers pay $2.50. Cash customers pay 75 cents.

  • 2010 -- The final changes - I-PASS users pay 75 cents. Truckers pay $3.75. Cash customers pay 95 cents.

  • 2021 -- All tolls eliminated.

"The toll highway system in Northeastern Illinois is very, very important to our state and our economy," Ryan said. "The tollways carry more than 1.2 million cars every day, cars that would clog other, smaller roads and create gridlock.We have to keep the system in good shape, but we also have to keep our promises to the motorists who for years have been told that someday those highways would be free.

"With this plan, we can now mark that day on a calendar."



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