A Greener Tollway for Illinois - Metropolitan Planning Council

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A Greener Tollway for Illinois

Gov. Blagojevich has announced a $1.8 billion investment proposal to create 80-miles of dedicated lanes on the Illinois Tollway to allow enhanced express bus services, carpooling, and energy-efficient vehicles to bypass heavy traffic congestion.

On Oct. 15, Ill. Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich and the Illinois Tollway unveiled a plan to implement ‘Green Lanes’ onIllinois toll roads by 2010. These would be dedicated lanes for carpoolers carrying two or more people, high-efficiency vehicles (such as hybrids, electric, or fuel cell cars), and solo drivers who will be allowed to drive in the Green Lane for an additional fee. As part of the proposal, increased express bus services and transit amenities will complement the 80-miles of Green Lanes to provide people with speedy, efficient alternatives to get them where they need to go.

The $1.8 billion green lane investment will provide several benefits for the region. Carpool lanes in other states including California, which accounts for 40 percent of all carpool lanes in the country successfully reduce emissions by decreasing stop-and-go traffic and providing a smooth, steady-flowing passage. MPC’s recent Moving at the Speed of Congestion study found congestion in Illinois costs $33 million per year in environmental damages and another $5.1 billion in wasted time. By designating Green Lanes, more cars will be able to bypass the bottlenecks choking our region.

Opponents have argued additional fees increase burdens on the less affluent and benefit the wealthy. However, the proposed Green Lanes benefit all because they provide the option to travel on a dedicated lane quickly and efficiently when it is necessary. The fee incurred by a solo driver may be worth more to the parent stuck in traffic who would otherwise be forced to pay hefty late fees at a daycare. Additionally, increased bus service and better transit connections -- with park-and-ride facilities or express routes -- enable riders to bypass heavy traffic congestion altogether and provide a quick, more reliable trip to their destination.

They are helping regions across the country alleviate congestion, reducing the amount of exhaust emissions polluting the air and provide for a better, cleaner environment. There are currently more than 100 carpool lanes covering approximately 2,300 lane miles throughout the U.S.  The Chicagoland area anticipates a growth of more than 2 million additional residents in the next 20 years.  The Green Lanes would be the type of innovative solution the region needs to get people out of daily bumper-to-bumper traffic and into a healthier and higher quality life.

Read MPC's testimony in support of the Green Lanes program
here.

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For more than 80 years, the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) has made the Chicago region a better place to live and work by partnering with businesses, communities and governments to address the area's toughest planning and development challenges. MPC works to solve today's urgent problems while consistently thinking ahead to prepare the region for the needs of tomorrow. Read more about our work »

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