The Illinois Toll Highway Authority has announced the permanent closure of manual pay lanes on Illinois’ tollways. The announcement comes 2 ½ weeks after State Senators Craig Wilcox (R-McHenry) and Don DeWitte (R-St. Charles) sent a letter to Toll Highway Authority Executive Director Jose Alvarez and Governor Pritzker seeking clarification on several points regarding manual toll booths, and why they remain closed to people who prefer not to purchase an IPASS.
“Our letter never received the courtesy of a response,” said Sen. Wilcox. “Constituents have been contacting my office asking why the manual lanes remained closed, and have said a few dollars in tolls can balloon to significantly more with fines and fees.”
While no press release announcing the permanent closure of manual lanes could be found on the Toll Authority web site, the news broke yesterday in the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun Times.
“Most of the questions asked in our letter remain unanswered,” added Wilcox. “Illinoisans deserve to know how the Toll Authority will remedy problems within the pay-as-you-go system of toll collection so drivers don’t continue to rack up fines. The Toll Authority also needs to announce whether they will offer a fine forgiveness opportunity for those who accumulated fines because the online system would not accept payment.”
According to the news coverage, the Tollway will expand its I-Pass Assist program to lower-income households in May of 2021. Through this program, drivers whose household income is below 250% of the federal poverty guidelines will have the deposit on transponders waived and receive $20 in free tolls. The Tollway will continue to allow drivers who don’t use I-Pass and E-ZPass to pay up to 14 days after using the Tollway.