Kane County Board defeats late amendments, locks in Longmeadow bridge toll
Kane County has its first toll bridge, though a last-minute amendment could have added tolls to two other county bridge crossings.
Tolls along the Longmeadow Parkway will become a reality after a Tuesday morning vote by the full Kane County Board. The vote ensures completion of the newest bridge to span the Fox River in the far northern portion of the county. The bridge will open in 2022.
That last-minute amendment came from county board member Chris Kious, who said the Longmeadow Parkway tolls represent an unfair cost to his constituents. He pointed to the Stearns Road and Fabyan Parkway bridges as two county projects that allow toll-free crossings.
"By passing this (toll), you are subjecting the residents of the northernmost part of this county to pay an extra tax/user fee for the use of this Kane County bridge, which they have to use to access each side of their own villages," Kious said. "No other roadway in the county has such a toll."
To be fair, he said, people who use the Stearns Road and Fabyan Parkway bridges should also pay a toll.
That proposal drew a stampede of "no" votes from all board members except for Kious and fellow area representative Jarett Sanchez.
"I appreciate the political statement, but this is, frankly, ridiculous," said board member Drew Frasz. "We should all vote 'no' on this as soon as possible."
County board Chairman Chris Lauzen went as far as to call Kious' proposal "sinister."
"If this comes to a tie, I will not only vote 'no,' I will vote 'hell no'," Lauzen said.
Kious also tried to make the Longmeadow bridge free for any Kane County resident to cross. That amendment also failed.
Kious represents about 8,000 Dundee Township residents who previously voted against the parkway in a nonbinding referendum with wording some believe biased the outcome.
The Longmeadow Parkway toll will be 95 cents for most vehicles crossing the bridge. Residents of Kane County and incorporated Algonquin can apply for a discount that would allow them to cross the bridge an unlimited number of times for a flat annual fee of $200.
The toll money will help pay off the $28 million the county must borrow to complete the bridge construction. It will stay in place after the debt is retired until officials deem enough funding exists in a special account that will fund the future maintenance of the bridge.
The idea is to build up a chunk of money, then allow the interest income on that money to pay for the maintenance. At that point, county officials said, a future county board should retire the toll.