Would you pay more for I-90 express lane?

  • The Illinois tollway is considering managed lanes on I-90.

    The Illinois tollway is considering managed lanes on I-90. Daily Herald file photo

 
 
Updated 9/7/2011 5:43 PM

Tollway drivers using I-90 could pay extra for a fast lane in the future on top of increased rates that go into effect Jan. 1.

The new revenues from the express lanes could subsidize bus rapid transit or commuter trains along the Jane Addams Tollway (I-90) corridor.

 

The Illinois State Toll Highway Authority recently received $528,840 from the Federal Highway Administration to study managed lanes and transit on I-90 between Rockford and O'Hare International Airport.

The concept could involve a range of options centered on an express lane. Cars with only one driver could be charged more to travel on the managed lane while carpools and buses use it for free.

Or, the higher tolls could be based on rush-hour use; studies have shown drivers are willing to pay a little more to get to their destination faster. Another twist would be to offer special pricing for fuel-efficient vehicles.

Officials said that integrating transit with the tollway could be a way of decreasing traffic congestion.

Tollway directors in August approved raising rates by 87 to 90 percent at most plazas equating to a jump from 40 cents to 75 cents or from 50 cents to 95 cents.

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The move will pay for a 15-year rebuilding program plus some significant new projects such as widening the Jane Addams by one lane in each direction.

And, at this point, the agency isn't saying what it would charge for an express lane, noting that the study will evaluate pricing as well.

For years, local leaders have hoped to construct a suburb-to-suburb commuter rail system operated by Metra called the STAR line. Part of the STAR line would travel along a segment of the Jane Addams between Hoffman Estates and O'Hare. But with no funding in sight for the multimillion project, regional planners now are talking about express buses instead.

The tollway's FHWA grant application states that it wants to "investigate the potential for funding transit service in the (I-90) corridor using incremental revenues generated by the managed lanes."

The study will focus on the transition from the tollway to the Kennedy Expressway, including the continuation of transit, officials said. This could involve the coordination of express buses using the tollway with transit at the River Road CTA station, which is a hub for Pace also.