Gov. Quinn made another stellar appointment to the Tollway Board this week, naming Maria Saldana as a member of the board. We at MPC applaud Maria’s appointment -- and not just because we’ve been proud to have her co-chair our Regional Planning and Investments Committee for the past two years, or because she has a great grasp of innovative transportation solutions such as congestion pricing, public private partnerships and other transportation demand management solutions. No, we applaud this appointment because it signals the Governor is serious about making real investments in our transportation system, not simply throwing more money at the problem.
Maria's appointment, along with recently appointed Tollway Board Chair Paula Wolff, demonstrates a new vein of leadership for the Tollway, an agency which shows lots of promise. Make no mistake, Open Road Tolling was in play long before Gov. Blagojevich branded it his own with $15,000/piece billboards. Planners at the Tollway were hatching that idea for years. They’re also mulling over some other very cool innovations including running express busses on shoulders, congestion pricing, and becoming a real partner in the region’s transportation planning with the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning and Regional Transportation Authority. Imagine that for a minute -- real collaboration between the region’s transit providers, tollway operator, and planners. Sounds like just the kind of idea Maria Saldana and Paula Wolff can get behind.