Readers don't like idea of carpool lane on Ike

  • IDOT wants the public to comment on a plan to add one lane in each direction on an Eisenhower Expressway bottleneck between Hillside and Oak Park.

      IDOT wants the public to comment on a plan to add one lane in each direction on an Eisenhower Expressway bottleneck between Hillside and Oak Park. Daniel White | Staff Photographer

Updated 1/16/2017 7:33 PM

Readers cheered a plan to add another lane to fix the Eisenhower Expressway's infamous three-lane bottleneck but booed levying a toll on vehicles occupied by one or two people.

The Illinois Department of Transportation is trying to straddle a cash shortfall by charging tolls on proposed new lanes in each direction between Mannheim Road and Austin Boulevard. Carpools with three or more people would drive free.


The project that aims to reduce crashes and remedy chronic gridlock is up for public comment through Feb. 13, with hearings set for Jan. 25 and 26.

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For the carpool plan to work, police "enforcement of the rules is critical," Mason Holmes of Glen Ellyn said. Otherwise, "crafty drivers, finding themselves short on the required occupancy, (have) resorted to having mannequins or dummies in the third seat" in other cities.

Mark Muehlhausen of Schaumburg described the project as "limousine lanes," benefiting well-off drivers.

"The rest of us will be left in the lanes paid for by shrinking gas taxes. We'll be scrunched between the trucks on lanes that need 10 times the maintenance from overuse but don't get it. We'll pay the tolls in suspension damage," he predicted.

And "when it comes to building roads, IDOT has done a pretty good job. What they have missed on is planning and designing roads that match the needed capacity. From the original Eisenhower, which was jammed on Day One, to the original Elgin-O'Hare Expressway, which was jammed on Day One, they've under-designed. They are certainly not alone in that, but it is time to quit making the same mistakes," Muehlhausen said.

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Jim Philbin, who has "spent months of my life sitting on Chicagoland expressways," calls the proposal "another nightmare designed to increase our costs and solve nothing.

"People do not carpool because they don't all work in the same place as their neighbors, they don't have the same start and finish times, and a large portion of them do not end their day where they started, as with sales people," the Glen Ellyn resident said.

St. Charles driver Christie Cunningham likes how Los Angeles offers high-occupancy vehicle lanes for cars with two or more people and doesn't charge tolls. The high-occupancy concept "seems to be a good idea," she wrote. "The varying toll idea, not so much. I'm tired of using our tax dollars to build roads for the wealthy. When the toll is 25 cents a mile, it isn't for the average commuter."

Tom Gnadt of Addison wonders what the point of paying gas taxes is. "They can make room for a tolled lane, but not a fourth lane," he commented. "If you need money, (why not) use the money they want to waste on the Route 53 extension that no one wants?"


The last word goes to Rick Dana Barlow of Schaumburg, who asks rhetorically, "Would I pay a toll to travel faster on the Eisenhower Expressway? You bet I would! How much will I have to pay to drive 95-plus mph legally to get downtown with no one in my way?"

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Mistiming with traffic signals at Meacham Road and Drummer Drive near Motorola Solutions in Schaumburg is causing massive backups, Frank Leo of Palatine wrote. "This mistiming continues 24 hours a day," he added.

Schaumburg Transportation Director Karen Robles explained that winter set in before the tollway could install underground traffic detectors. Warmer weather last week allowed workers to proceed, and she's hopeful traffic lights will work, not irk, in a week or so.

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You should know

The Illinois tollway's new chief operating officer is a political and campaign veteran. Kevin Artl previously worked as former Republican Sen. Mark Kirk's state director and campaign manager. Previously, he was chief of policy and communications for Illinois House Republicans, political director of the House GOP Organization, and Amtrak's director of government affairs. Artl, who started at the tollway in December, will receive a salary of $155,000 a year.

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