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updated: 1/3/2012 6:05 PM

Too soon to tell if drivers will avoid toll fees

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  • Drivers are flinging more change into tollway buckets this week.

      Drivers are flinging more change into tollway buckets this week.
    Daily Herald file photo

 
 

The rates are up, but it's unknown yet if drivers are flocking to other routes to avoid higher Illinois tollway charges.

For I-PASS users, fees jumped by nearly 100 percent or about 35 to 45 cents at most toll plazas on Sunday. Ramp fees also spiked, and cash-paying customers will pay close to double to fund the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority's $12 billion construction plan.

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The agency won't have any data about whether the toll hike has an impact on driver numbers until next week, spokeswoman Wendy Abrams said Tuesday.

Commuters, however, have mixed reactions. While some said they wouldn't change their normal routes, I-PASS user Natalie White said she's taking action to avoid the extra fees.

"Since this summer we bought a house in a location that makes me unable to take anything but the tollways, but to offset it my husband and I are carpooling so that we only get hit once with tolls," said White, who works in Lisle.

"We are currently looking for jobs that are closer to home and require no tollway usage."

Tollway administrators say traffic studies indicate some drop-off is to be expected, but that's not significant as drivers usually return to their old habits, history shows.

Naperville Police Chief David Dial said there were no signs of discontented tollway drivers clogging city roads.

"I think the convenience of the tollway will keep them there, even in the face of an increased cost," Dial said. "I don't anticipate anything, but obviously, time could prove me wrong."

For someone who commutes through the Army Trail Toll Plaza on I-355 twice daily -- now 95 cents -- the increase would mean about $225 a year, not including new fees on any access ramps and assuming two weeks vacation.

For someone going to work using the York Road Toll Plaza on I-88 or Elgin Toll Plaza on I-90 twice a day -- both now costing 75 cents -- the increase will mean about $175 a year, not including ramps.

The change does not affect truckers, who will see higher tolls in 2015.

The electronic toll collection system software is operating normally, despite the new information being processed, officials said.

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