Forum: Tolls needed to maintain tollways
February 28, 2013 9:42PM
Updated: April 2, 2013 6:43AM
Some readers have inquired as to why Illinois tollways have not become freeways. Legislative leaders at the time the Illinois Toll Highway Authority was created in 1953 did promise that the toll roads would become freeways once the bonds used to build the original 187 miles of the tollway system were paid off.
That promise was well-intentioned but short-sighted, as it did not consider the need to maintain the system or answer future demands for new roads. Maintenance of the tollway system must be paid for one way or another.
If there were no tollways, the state would need to raise the gasoline tax by about 9 cents a gallon statewide to pay for maintenance and operation of the existing tollways. If there were no tollways, new roads such as the Veterans Memorial Tollway (Interstate 355) and the planned Elgin-O’Hare Western Access would not get built because Illinois’ road funds are needed to support other roads and highways throughout the state.
In addition, toll roads and bridges are commonplace in more than 30 states, as many find that they are the best way to build and support critical infrastructure.
The Illinois tollway system receives no state or federal funds for maintenance and operations. It is a user-fee system that many consider to be a better option than increased gas taxes for everyone.
Only those who use our system pay to drive on it.
Illinois Toll Highway Authority
Openness in government
I am writing in regards to the cost for local government in complying with requests for public information under Illinois’ freedom of information law. Many of these requests could be avoided if information were readily available on each government agency’s website.
Information on board and committee meetings, budgets, contracts, employee credentials (education, certificates, licenses, etc.) and other information should be posted for taxpayers to see without them having to seek it in writing. Taxpayers have the right to know how their money is being spent and the credentials of those spending their money.
Minutes of board meetings should be posted to the website as soon as possible, within a few days at most, so citizens can learn what happened in a timely manner.
The federal, state, county, township and municipal governments take our money via taxes, so it is only fair that we know how much is being spent and for what purpose.
For all the people who are saddened and upset that Jesse Jackson Jr. has been caught, have no fear.
When he gets out of federal prison in a few years, I am positive that a book will be written, an Oprah interview will be scheduled and an election campaign soon will follow. History shall repeat itself.