Illinois Tollway seeks upgrades, maybe toll increase

| 9/5/2002

Illinois Tollway officials last week pushed forward with a plan to rebuild and widen 18 miles of the Tri-State Tollway near the Indiana border. A toll hike to help pay for construction was discussed.

Made public as part of the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority's $412.3 million proposed 2003 budget, the plan reportedly calls for spending $43.4 million next year for design work and some construction to widen the Tri-State from six to eight lanes.

Officials noted that without a toll increase they will not have enough money, $522.5 million, to finish the job over the next five years.

"It is predicated on a toll increase," tollway Executive Director Thomas Cuculich told news reporters. "But if we don't get the funding for it, then we'll have to scale it back."

The authority reportedly is moving ahead with the project to synchronize plans with the Illinois and Indiana transportation department's, both planning to widen I-80 from the southern end of the Tri-State. Tentative approval by the board is expected in October, with formal approval in December.