* A boycott would definitely be cutting off one’s nose to spite their face…
Does a tollway hike in January mean thousands of I-PASS users flocking to alternate routes to avoid paying more at tolled ramps and plazas?
Illinois State Toll Highway Authority officials don’t think so.
But one I-PASS devotee who uses I-88 to get from Aurora to work in Naperville said “Diehl Road, here I come!” minutes after the tollway board of directors voted Thursday to increase rates to pay for a $12 billion roads program.
Another vowed to take Route 83 instead of I-355 on the daily commute between Lombard and Arlington Heights. It was a choice of spending 15 minutes more on the drive or paying roughly $300 more a year.
15 minutes extra commuting per day is 62.5 hours a year, with two weeks subtracted for a vacation. That unnamed person must not make much money if s/he can throw away that much time every year.
* Meanwhile, this number needs far more explanation…
A $12 billion capital plan that would create thousands of jobs seems like a panacea for the metropolitan region’s woeful unemployment rate of 10.5 percent.
But predicting job creation numbers isn’t an exact science, experts say regarding the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority’s building program.
Tollway directors Thursday adopted a construction agenda for the next 15 years they say will create 120,000 permanent jobs and 13,000 temporary construction jobs.
We’d point out that the big, $30 billion-ish statewide construction plan was estimated to create 40,000ish jobs. So would a $12 billion plan create three times as many?
We’re concerned that the tollway has come to fancy itself an economic engine. Creating jobs ought to be a collateral benefit, not part of the mission statement. The system is supported by user fees — tolls — a concept we support. But we don’t think it’s fair to tap users to pay for projects that aren’t yet needed, all in the name of creating jobs. We’ll say it again: The Illinois Tollway is a highway system, not a jobs program.
* But not everybody is up in arms…
[State Rep. Darlene Senger (R-Naperville)] addressed a question on the Illinois Tollway raising tolls by saying she was conflicted on the issue. She said she understood the reluctance to raise tolls, but understood the need for improving the state’s toll system, particularly for extending the Elgin-O’Hare Expressway and linking the state’s system with I-65 in Indiana.
“I kind of like the user fee, instead of taxing everybody,” she said.