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How to Retire the Illinois Tollway

Updated on September 13, 2014

It's time we start creating ways to reduce tollways

The first tollway in Illinois opened in 1958. The Illinois Toll Highway Commission was established in 1953.

What should we do with the Illinois Tollway? In my opinion, it needs to start becoming an economic engine for business and not a tax on the people. A systematic reduction of the number of tollbooths over the next 30 years will help the Illinois economy by growing areas of the state that are stifled by the Tollway.

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History of the Illinois Tollway

The Illinois Tollway Authority started with the three originals in 1957: Tristate Tollway (I294 from Indiana to I94 near Wisconsin), I88 (from I294 to Sugar Grove), and I90 (between I294 and Rockford).

In 1970, I88 was extended from Sugar Grove to Dixon, Illinois with a free highway extending to the Quad Cities.

In 1989, I355 (North-South Tollway) was opened from Army Trail Road to I55 and later extended in 2007 to I80.

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How do we retire the Illinois Tollway?

I don't believe it's ever an easy task to unravel something that is being done by the government. What we do want is to start to eliminate those things that cost Illinois jobs and help those that need help. In order to do this, we need to systematically remove tollboths from the system over a period of time. Here's how I would accomplish this task.

1. Eliminate the tollboths at Halsted street and where I-80 splits off of I-294. This allows the depressed area up and down Halsted to begin to reclaim business traffic going into and out of Indiana. The I-80 tollbooths would allow traffic to freely flow into the I-80 corridor. With the elimination of the I-80 tollbooths, I-294 then would start on the south side where it splits from I-80, and no longer start at the separation of I-94. The maintenance and upkeep of the few miles would fall to the same organization keeping up the I-80 expressway.

2. Begin to eliminate the I-90 tollway between Rockford and I-294. Increasing the commerce between Rockford and Chicago will help Illinois increase its workforce viability as the Rockford airport is a viable third airport to Northern Illinois.

3. Rollback the I-88 tollway to end a I-39.

4. Gradually eliminate the I-294 tollway from the north and south.

The overall goal of the reduction of the Illinois Tollway is to reduce the footprint to the newer tollways, I-355 and the western part of I-88.

What is your opinion of reducing the footprint of the Illinois Tollway?

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      Tom Fattes 3 years ago from Naperville, IL

      I lived in Glen Ellyn growing up and I355 certainly made it easier to get down to Bloomington-Normal when it opened. Prior to it opening, I would take 53 or 59 to get to 55 south.

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      Donna Cook 3 years ago

      Terrific article! As a native Chicogoan born in 1951, I remember each and every leg of the tollways and expressways being built. As I recall, the tolls were to be used to pay off the bonds sold to build the system. Then of course, came the need to maintain and expand the system. Funny how the southern stretch of I-80/294 always was repaved by the same contractor every few years. I was ecstatic when 355 opened. I lived in Wheaton and had to get off, and use surface streets to get home. Out of town guests always commented that the toll booths were so close together. I will say that the snow removal was consistently excellent.