By Mark H. Reddig
Illinois Tollway officials have approved a plan that would scale back proposed toll increases on trucks by expanding the hours for off-peak discounts.
In August, Gov. Rod Blagojevich proposed nearly quadrupling the tolls truckers pay on the Illinois Tollway.
With that plan, the toll for a five-axle tractor-trailer would have risen from $1.25 to $4. During off-peak hours — 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. — the toll would have been $3, more than double the current rate. Truckers would not have received a discount for I-Pass use.
The plan approved Sept. 30 increases the number of hours truckers can receive the off-peak rate and allows the discount at certain times only if they use I-Pass, said Joelle McGinnis, press secretary for Illinois Tollway.
From 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., all truckers — paying with cash or I-Pass — will pay the off-peak $3 rate. Additional off-peak hours for truckers using I-Pass will be from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on weekdays, from 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays, and all weekend long. During those additional hours, truckers paying with cash will pay the $4 rate.
All truckers using the toll roads will pay the full $4 from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and from 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on weekdays — when the Tollway’s routes are clogged with commuters in the Chicago area.
The toll is charged at each toll plaza a truck passes through. On the Tri-State Tollway, truckers must pass through five.
The plan was approved during a meeting of the Tollway Authority Sept. 30. McGinnis said the rate changes were scheduled to go into effect Jan. 1.
Tollway officials created the plan after working with trucking industry officials and state Sen. Susan Garrett, D-Highwood, whose district includes part of the northern Chicago suburbs. Some residents of Garrett’s district had expressed concerns about increased truck traffic on non-interstate routes if trucks diverted off the Tollway to avoid the higher costs.
“We want to give truckers some relief, and we also want to reduce fears of diversion that some of the communities along the Tollway have,” McGinnis said.
“But one of our biggest incentives is to get trucks to travel during off-peak hours, because the Illinois Tollway is a major commuter route.”