Are tolls on former Elgin-O'Hare shifting traffic elsewhere?
Since tolls descended on Route 390, there has been an exodus of cars and trucks from the former Elgin-O'Hare Expressway.
Vehicles decreased between 38 percent and 28 percent on sections of Route 390 between Lake Street and I-290, according to Illinois tollway data comparing usage before construction and in February.
Where are those thousands of commuters and truckers going? Boycotting 20-cent a mile tolls on Route 390 and spilling off onto local roads in communities like Roselle, some residents say.
Commuter Brian McGehee was running late Friday at 7 a.m., "so, I bit the bullet," he said referring to Route 390. "The (toll) road was very open and un-congested."
But en route to the toll road, Central Avenue in Roselle -- an east-west alternative to Route 390 -- "was a nightmare," crowded with semitrailers, box trucks and large delivery vans, McGehee said.
Tollway officials said they anticipated a drop-off in Route 390 traffic, and it's actually better than projected.
"Fewer people than we anticipated chose to try alternate roads, indicating that our customers recognize the value of the convenience and faster travel times provided by the new Route 390," spokesman Dan Rozek said.
"We are pleased to see that usage is greater than we initially anticipated."
In 2012, before any construction began, daily traffic counts on Route 390 averaged about 42,000 vehicles at Lake Street, about 71,000 vehicles at Mitchell Boulevard and about 78,450 vehicles at Plum Grove Road, Rozek said.
Tolling began July 5 and from that date through October, daily traffic counts on Route 390 averaged 30,450 vehicles at Lake Street, 56,650 at Mitchell Boulevard and 59,450 at Plum Grove.
In February, the daily averages came to 26,200 vehicles at Lake Street, 51,300 at Mitchell Boulevard and 54,000 at Plum Grove.
The new numbers show a 4 to 8 percent decline during February compared to averages recorded since the new toll road opened.
"The traffic reductions recorded in February on Route 390 are similar to the declines typically seen across our system during the winter months," Rozek said.
Roselle hasn't conducted any scientific studies of post-toll traffic, officials said.
Last summer, "we did feel there was an increase to local traffic on Central Avenue as drivers may have avoided I-390 by accessing Central Avenue off Gary Avenue, Rodenburg Road, and Roselle Road," Village Manager Jeffrey D. O'Dell said.
Roselle Mayor Gayle Smolinski also notices more trucks, particularly on Central Avenue.
"When there is change there's always discombobulation," she said.
"We hope at some point the truckers will realize it takes them longer on Central and go back to using the toll road."
With road repairs on Central coming, there's a built-in incentive, Smolinski added.
This year, workers will finish building Route 390 between I-290 and Route 83, with more tolls to kick in by the end of 2017.
What that means for traffic in other suburbs along Route 390 is anyone's guess.
One thing's certain. Roselle's Marsha Pedersen won't be hopping on the new road soon.
"I used to travel from Roselle Road to Lake Street many times a week (on the Elgin-O'Hare Expressway). Now it would cost me 60 cents each way. That's a hefty price for a few minutes' drive," she said.
One more thing
As we reported in November, revenues are pouring in from Route 390 at a higher rate than officials expected. Transactions at toll plazas exceeded $2.3 million in January.
You should know
"You are not alone. Make the call," is the message on posters coming soon to train stations along the Union Pacific Northwest Line. Barrington's two Rotary clubs are sponsoring the posters aimed at preventing deaths by suicide, which came at a time when some mental health centers are seeing increased calls for counseling, said Rotarian Jeanne Hanson, executive director of Samaritan Counseling Center of the Northwest Suburbs. The posters include the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number, (800) 273-(HELP) 8255.