Do you remember coming home from Wisconsin on the toll road after you had spent a weekend at your cabin or a vacation at the Dells? Just as you entered Illinois on the toll road, you came to a bank of toll booths. Each toll booth had a gate which came down in front of the vehicle. After you paid your toll to the attendant, he would raise the gate and allow your car to pass. Then the toll gate would come down again.
Technology advanced, and the toll gates were eliminated. Instead, you had to stop at an unmanned toll basket and pay your toll. If you put the correct amount of change into the toll basket, a red light would turn green. If you tried to sneak through without putting the correct change into the basket, a camera would take a picture of your license plate. Then you were in BIG TROUBLE. Soon you would receive a ticket from the Illinois Toll Highway Authority. The fine was $20.00 plus the cost of the toll for each violation. If you failed to pay that initial $20.00 fine plus toll, an additional $50.00 fine per violation appeared on your next notice. If you still failed to pay, the penalty escalated to revocation of the vehicle registration.
In 2004, open road tolling was introduced. Drivers with transponders could drive at normal highway speeds under toll collecting equipment instead of stopping to pay tolls. Toll booths were relocated to the side of the road to handle vehicles without transponders. The price for paying cash is twice the transponder price.
Fast forward to 2016. Beginning July 5, 2016, the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority will debut the first, all-electronic roadway on its 286 mile tollway system. Illinois Route 390, known as the Elgin O’Hare Western Access Project, is a ten mile stretch running between Lake Street on the West and Illinois Route 83 on the East. Cashless tolling is scheduled to begin July 5, 2016 on the western segment from Lake Street to I-290. Cashless tolling on the eastern segment is scheduled to begin in 2017 on the eastern segment from I-290 to Illinois Route 83.
Passenger vehicles with I-PASS will pay $1.90 for traveling the full ten miles. Toll collection equipment mounted over the traffic lanes will read the I-PASS transponder mounted on the windshield and automatically collect the tolls. No toll booths or cash baskets will be available on Illinois Route 390. Drivers without transponders will have a seven day grace period to pay the toll by check or online.
Within the ten mile Illinois Route 390 are six entry and exit points. Passenger vehicles with I-PASS will pay a toll ranging from $0.20 to $0.60 for each section.
For more information, go to www.illinoistollway.com.
—By Karen Centowski