Illinois bares its teeth to toll scofflaws while some dispute claims

By David Tanner, Land Line associate editor | Thursday, September 05, 2013

The Illinois Tollway continues to take aggressive action against toll scofflaws. The agency recently published a list of those who owe the most in unpaid tolls and penalties, and the list includes dozens of trucking companies. Topping the list was a small trucking company the agency says owes nearly $215,000.

For the past 11 months, Tollway authorities have been filing court actions against companies that owed them money. The effort got a little more serious this summer when Gov. Pat Quinn signed a bill into law allowing the agency to publish its list of 157 “super scofflaws” that owe more than $1,000. The agency published the list on Aug. 28 and will update it quarterly.

“If seeing your company’s name on this list becomes an incentive for you to pick up the phone and call us to settle your debt, then we’ve achieved our goal,” Tollway Executive Director Kristi LaFleur said in a statement.

A small company with only nine trucks and eight drivers, Landa Transport of Frankfort, Ill., topped the scofflaw list. The toll agency is seeking $214,859 from the company. The Chicago Tribune quotes Landa president Eddie Garza as saying there’s “no way” the company owes that much in tolls and that his trucks rarely use the toll road. Garza told the Tribune his company does not even spend that much in fuel.

A similarly small company, Steve’s Underdog Trucking of Hinckley, Ill., was next on the Illinois Tollway list with $192,742 in what the agency says are unpaid tolls and penalties.

Illinois Tollway spokeswoman Joelle McGinnis told Land Line some of the companies have violations dating back to 2001. She said initial fines are $20 for a missed or unpaid toll, which increases to $70 per violation if notices go unresolved.

“We’ve continued to pursue these chronic violators through our own processes and by working with collection agencies, but now we have no other choice but to pursue them in court, and now post their company names on our website,” McGinnis said via email.

In addition to trucking companies the list includes waste services, electrical supply companies, taxi cabs, limos and various construction firms.

According to the Illinois Tollway, eight businesses owe more than $100,000; 15 businesses owe $50,000 to $99,999; 17 businesses $25,000 to $49,999; 34 businesses owe $10,000 to $24,999; 36 businesses owe $5,000 to $9,999; and 47 businesses owe between $1,000 and $4,999. In total, the businesses owe $3.7 million.

The agency says it has sent at least nine notices to each business on the list, and has taken between nine months and two years to bring court action against each one. The agency recently asked the Illinois Comptroller to withhold tax refunds from the “most egregious violators.”

Court actions have recovered about $500,000 according to the agency.

Colorado also cracking down
Tolling agencies that oversee the E-470 and Interstate 25 Express Lanes in the Denver area are also taking steps to collect unpaid tolls and penalties.

The E-470 Public Highway Authority and Colorado High Performance Transportation Enterprise recently sent letters to the owners of 279 vehicles who owed more than $200 in unpaid tolls on their respective toll roads.

According to a press release, those vehicle owners will not be able to renew their vehicle registrations at the state licensing office until they pay their outstanding toll bills.

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