Illinois toll hike doubles truckers costs

| Tuesday, April 02, 2002

The Illinois State Toll Highway Authority approved a fast-track proposal March 28 that would double truckers tolls. Trucking officials said the move would lead to an exodus of trucks to toll-free secondary roads.

Under the proposal, truck tolls would soar from $1.25 to $2.50. Other motorists would see 40- to 50-cent tolls increase to 75 cents and tolls that are now 75 cents would jump to $1.25.

"Almost every other major city in the nation that's supported by motor fuel taxes manages to maintain toll free highways around their metropolitan area," said owner-operator and OOIDA board member Woody Chambers of Hoffman Estates, IL. "Why are the public and commercial vehicles paying state and federal fuel taxes to run on roads supported entirely by tolls? This is double taxation in its purest sense."

The highway authority said the toll increase would help the state raise $5.5 billion through 2017 to add lanes and fix roads. Without the price hike, the authority said it will run out of money to pay for needed repairs in 2004.

"If money is needed to upgrade the toll road, let's get it back from the state and the federal government," said Chambers. "If anyone thinks the congestion on Chicago expressways and arterial roads is unbearable now, imagine what will happen when tolls are raised by more than 80 percent and doubled on trucks. Once again it appears the motoring public and commercial traffic in the Chicago area will be bullied by the toll highway authority, a separate entity, answering to no one."

Public hearings on the increases are planned for mid April throughout the 12 counties the system serves. But tollway officials admitted those meetings likely will be formalities, according to a published report.

The toll board could vote at its April 25 meeting to ratify the increase, which then could take effect as soon as June.

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