Open Road Tolling: Not to be confused with Congestion Relief

tolling.jpgLeave it to the state of Illinois to take a totally awesome idea and turn it into a stupid and irritating nightmare. Welcome to the world of Open Road Tolling. If you have an iPass, breeze right through. For the millions that don’t, be prepared for even more bottlenecking at the already plentiful tolls on our fine roads. I especially like the fact that the highway authority was smart enough to realize that Open Road Tolling is, in fact, not Congestion Relief. That is a different “Current Project” on their website.

Don’t get me wrong, the iPass is a great idea. But only for the people that use it enough to offset the fact that it costs $50 to get one.


So, let me get this straight. We have to pay money to have more money taken away from us efficiently? iPass saves money for the state by allowing them to have fewer booth workers and people doing the actual money counting. So why the $50? I understand that it covers the cost of the transponder, but what ever happened to “spend money to make money”? If the state just gave people the iPass after they fill out an application to link it up direct to their bank account, then bajillions of people would be lining up for their iPass. They could cut down on even more manual toll booths across the state, surely saving themselves a butt-ton in labor costs. Besides the fact, we are already pretty much being good citizens paying tolls in the first place; there are plenty of other states whose roads are just fine and they have an absence of toll roads snaking everywhere you drive.

Open Road Tolling has bad news written all over it. Construction on the first phase just started at the Edens Spur up by Deerfield, and it is already a wreck. Driving back to the city after visiting my dad tonight, we had to wait a good couple minutes to get through the 2 open manual lanes. And this was with no traffic at 9pm on a Saturday night. I can’t even imagine what 8:30am on a Monday must be like.

13 Comments so far

  1. LF (unregistered) on June 25th, 2005 @ 10:55 pm

    Technically you pay nothing as it’s a deposit. Also, if you’re driving anywhere in Chicago, you can afford $50. I understand your complaint, but it doesn’t matter how loud you are – those in charge view ipass-less users as fodder to be taken advantage of.

    The solution is obvious: get rid of the unneeded toll system.

  2. Alana (unregistered) on June 25th, 2005 @ 11:07 pm

    Can somebody please tell me who actually owns the tolled highways around here? I’ve heard that they are privately owned and that the toll funds don’t even really go to the state. Is this true?

  3. Lauren (unregistered) on June 26th, 2005 @ 12:29 am

    I don’t think it has anything to do with whether or not I can afford an iPass; the affordability or my income staus has nothing to do with it. The fact of the matter is that iPass itself is a cost saving technique for the toll-roads. Sure, you get a bonus un return but, at the end of the day, it is a way for them to save money in labor and costs. Because of that, I don’t really want to triple foot the bill; first for the roads themselves, second for the increased price that I pay for not having an iPass, and then again for the actual toll mechanism. “Technically” I don’t pay anything, but it’s $50 less in my pocket. That’s 10 days worth of lunch.

  4. LF (unregistered) on June 26th, 2005 @ 2:48 am

    First, read again what I said, because if you do carefully, you’ll realize I agreed with everything you just repeated.

    Second, you are not paying for the roads. They were paid for back in the mid 80s. The whole thing is a political racket (common knowledge). You ARE being forced to give money for completely different uses (see IDOT’s numerous budget allocation breakdowns from year to year).

    Finally, my point stands. The only way to rememdy all these problems (including the ones you mentioned) is to **get rid of the toll system**. You don’t want an ipass? You wouldn’t need one if there was nothing to pay for in the first place.

  5. chicagomonkey (unregistered) on June 27th, 2005 @ 1:01 am


    they don’t actually cost you $50.

    it’s a $10 deposit

    and you put $40 on the transponder

    or at least that’s how mine worked

    when I got mine a couple years ago

  6. Bill V (unregistered) on June 27th, 2005 @ 12:46 pm

    The Ipass is not such a bad thing, I agree that if you own a car, you should also have $50, and of the $50, I think only $10 is for the deposit. It’s not perfect, but a step in the right direction. Riding a bike is still the way to go.

  7. Marty Gleason (unregistered) on June 28th, 2005 @ 6:28 am

    Don’t forget: one of the main reasons for iPass is simply to cut down on quarter theft.

  8. tom (unregistered) on June 28th, 2005 @ 10:48 am

    quarter theft? wa-huh-whaaaa?

  9. nate (unregistered) on September 20th, 2005 @ 12:27 am

    the reason there are tolls is so that money generated by southern illinois isn’t stolen and used for the greater chicago area

  10. Mike Bass (unregistered) on October 26th, 2005 @ 6:57 pm

    Someone should file a class action law suit against the State of Illinois and the Governor.
    Open Road Tolling is a violation of your constitutional rights to privacy. The State uses the information to track your vechile and your movements. Highway 90 East has for example no automatic toll lanes avaiable for coin currency.
    WHY? Wake up Illionis residents the Toll Way Commission is abusing their rights and taking full advantage of the voters and tax payers of IL.
    Have you seen traffice decrease with the current IPASS System in place? No I do not think so. So why the system? Why even the tolls?

  11. Al Franken (unregistered) on November 14th, 2005 @ 10:01 pm

    That is a very nice conspiracy theory, but no, I’m sorry, the State does NOT “use the information to track your vehicle and your movements”. The purposes of ORT are: 1) Reduce commute time 2) Reduce Tollway Authority costs, which help to keep toll increases to a minimum and 3) Increase revenue by helping to catch those people who systematically steal the revenue from the State (and ultimately you and I) by going through the Express lanes without an IPass.

    And before anyone can spew Conspiracy Theory #2 and say that the next thing they will be doing is issuing speeding tickets to drivers who get from one tollbooth to the next too fast, consider this: your speed is ALREADY being clocked when you go through a tollbooth; not being measured from one booth to the next, but AS YOU ARE PASSING THROUGH! Illinois state law prohibits the issuance of a speeding ticket based upon this data.

    Oh, and by the way, your vehicle’s picture is taken each and every time you go through a tollbooth; if your car is not in violation (if you either pay the toll or have a valid IPass) the picture is deleted.

    Anyway – who cares if they did start tracking vehicles? I know for myself, if my car were stolen with my kid inside, or I ended up missing, I would appreciate them being able to help. The way I see it, if you aren’t doing anything wrong, you shouldn’t be worried. Naive? No – just living life, not worrying about the small stuff.

  12. George Roberts (unregistered) on November 16th, 2005 @ 5:26 pm

    And for those that keep asking for the end of the tollway system, think about this: The tollways do not receive Federal highway funds, which means that without toll collection, the State of Illinois would have to fund all the maintenance and expansion costs of those expressways out of TAX DOLLARS. With the tollway system in place, those that are using the roads are paying for them. I can’t think of a better way to pay for something — charge those that use it.

  13. Civil Engineer (unregistered) on November 17th, 2005 @ 10:45 am

    Thank you Al Franken and George Roberts for pointing out the truth.

    The Tollway is acutally very fair, those who use it, pay for it.

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