Tollway makes it easier to get I-PASS transponders
By Steve Metsch email@example.com September 1, 2014 8:46PM
Updated: September 2, 2014 2:07AM
The Illinois Tollway is making it cheaper to obtain and fund an I-PASS transponder and account in advance of the new, cash-free interchange linking the Tri-State Tollway with Interstate 57 that is scheduled to open in October, according to a news release.
The new I-294/I-57 Interchange will be the fourth all-electronic interchange on the Tollway system.
While all of the Tollway’s recently constructed interchanges have not included a cash payment option, this is the first interstate-to-interstate connection on the Tollway system where there is no toll collection point on the mainline roadway for customers who want to pay cash.
Tollway customers who would like to pay cash to travel between I-294 and I-57 still will be able to do so at the 159th Street Ramp Toll Plaza or via the 163rd Street Toll Plaza.
As part of a campaign to educate customers about the new, all-electronic interchange and encourage them to get I-PASS, the agency is temporarily lowering the cost to $30 for a new I-PASS account from the current $50 or $60.
For new customers, the deposit required to obtain an I-PASS transponder will be permanently reduced from $20 to $10 for all account types. Additionally, both the initial pre-paid toll amount and the minimum rate to replenish I-PASS accounts will be reduced from $40 to $20 for customers who open new accounts through Dec. 31.
For existing customers who replenish their accounts manually, a $10 deposit refund will automatically be applied to their I-PASS account balances in the form of a credit to their pre-paid toll accounts. Cash refunds will not be issued. Existing customers also can have their minimum rate to replenish I-PASS accounts reduced from $40 to $20 upon request.
The new pricing system begins on Oct. 1, according to the news release.
To take advantage of these offers, new and existing customers must call (800) 824-7277 weekdays from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. and weekends from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. or visit one of the Illinois Tollway’s Customer Service Centers. The offer will not be available on-line or at any of the Jewel-Osco stores where I-PASS transponders are sold.
“The Tollway is committed to ‘everybody in, nobody left out’ and the plan our board approved (Aug. 28) will make getting an I-PASS as easy as possible,” Illinois Tollway Executive Director Kristi Lafleur said in a statement. “We have heard that the upfront cost of I-PASS can be a barrier for some and we hope that this program will help relieve that burden so that everyone has access to I-PASS.”
Tollway Board Chair Paula Wolff called the new interchange “another example of the Illinois Tollway Board’s commitment to improve the Tollway system and enhance access for our customers as well as communities and businesses. So, it only makes sense to make I-PASS more accessible to customers who will be using the interchange.”
Completion of the first phase of the new interchange in October will create access from northbound I-57 to northbound I-294 and from southbound I-294 to southbound I-57, including a new interchange at 147th Street.
I-PASS discounted rates for the new all-electronic interchange will be 75 cents for cars and $1.50 for customers who pay their unpaid tolls online. Truck rates will range from $1.50 to $4 during daytime hours, with overnight discounts offered.
This fall, customers who use the I-294/I-57 Interchange without I-PASS will have 30 days from the date of their unpaid toll to pay online — up from seven days on all other parts of the Tollway system. This extended, limited-time offer will expire on Dec. 31.
For added convenience, the Tollway is opening a temporary Customer Service Center at the Secretary of State Office in Midlothian, 14434 S. Pulaski Road, from September through November.
The interchange is expected to serve more than 76,000 vehicles per day and provide direct freight access to Chicago’s south suburbs, saving drivers $4 million annually in fuel. Tri-State Tollway drivers currently using I-80 to get to I-57 will save 25 travel hours per year using the new interchange. The full interchange is expected to be completed in 2024.