In an effort to whip up enthusiasm for I-PASS, the Illinois tollway is dropping certain costs for new customers just in time for the opening of a new interchange at the Tri-State Tollway and I-57 this fall.
Ramps connecting the two expressways will be ready for use in October. The interchange near Harvey in the south suburbs will be all-electronic with no coin collection baskets available.
Here's a look at discounts available Oct. 1 through Dec. 31:
• The amount of money required in prepaid tolls (when you open an I-PASS account) and to replenish accounts will drop from $40 to $20 for new customers from Oct. 1 to Dec. 31.
• Existing I-PASS holders can also get the minimum to replenish accounts decreased to $20 upon request in the three-month period.
• The initial transponder deposit for I-PASS accounts managed manually (paid in person or over the phone instead of automatically with credit or debit cards) will be reduced from $20 to $10 permanently. A $10 deposit refund will show up as a credit for current customers who manage their I-PASS accounts manually.
To open an account or make changes, contact (800) UCI-PASS or (800) 824-7277.
Tollway board directors voted on the reductions at a Thursday meeting. During recent focus groups, some drivers without I-PASS accounts said the upfront costs were a problem.
The interchange at I-57 and the Tri-State is the fourth all-electronic one on the system but it's the only one connecting two interstates.
The project cost $719 million. Tolls will be 75 cents for cars using I-PASS and $1.75 for vehicles without I-PASS who pay online within 30 days through Dec. 31. Starting in 2015, drivers without I-PASS will have only seven days to pay online without incurring fees.