The Tollway wants your opinion - Metropolitan Planning Council

Skip to main content

The Tollway wants your opinion

Illinois Tollway

MPC research assistant Adrienne Masterton wrote this blog post.

The Illinois Tollway Transition Team wants your opinion on how they can improve customer service. If you’re an Illinois Tollway customer, you can offer your suggestions by visiting the Tollway’s web site, scrolling down to the middle of the homepage, and clicking on the "Talk to Us" button on the right.

I’m a frequent Tollway user who loves driving but hates traffic. There’s so much I could say, but I’ll keep this short and sweet. Here are my top three suggestions for the Tollway to make me a happier customer: 

  1. Use congestion pricing. I had never heard of the concept before my internship here, but after doing my own research, reading the congestion pricing report recently released by MPC, the Tollway, and Wilbur Smith Associates, and attending a presentation on the success of Minneapolis’ success with it, I am sold. Implementation could involve minimal construction if done well, be relatively inexpensive – relative to building more lanes that would fill up in a few years anyway – and be effective in the long term at relieving congestion and reducing travel times. I would be more than willing to pay a few bucks if I never have to come to a complete stop on my route. 
  2. Make it easier on the eyes. I’m under no illusion that there is any solution that will completely eradicate congestion. If I am going to be crawling along, at least give me something other than concrete sound walls to look at. Installing some green space or art along the toll roads could make enjoying a traffic jam realistic. I love driving down Lake Shore Drive, even if traffic is not moving, simply because I am in a pretty place. Just some flowerpots at the toll booths, or vines on the oases, or anything to brighten up those boring sound barriers, perhaps some paintings like those on the Bank of America (LaSalle Bank) Mural Building you can see from I-94. In addition to beautifying my travel, landscaping would help with air quality, making up for some of my car’s emissions. 
  3. Make the signs easy to understand. As someone who uses the Tollway often, I have no problem navigating, even in the endless construction. However, not all drivers are frequent Tollway users. With inconsistencies in which lanes are for cash and which are for I-PASS, a technology that should move traffic faster sometimes actually complicates the situation. Drivers have to slow down or cut people off to get to the proper lane, or risk skipping the toll. Also, drivers can never get too much of a “heads up” on construction-related changes. Recently I saw two fender-benders while going from I-88 to I-294 because there was only one lane that would exit, not the usual two lanes. People panic when they think they are going to miss the exit, and end up rushing into a lane where there’s no room. Then when someone gets hit and has to pull off, everybody else has to slow down and see what’s going on.

These are just a few of my own suggestions, but I have seen a lot of other good ideas: showing how much your I-PASS is getting charged, making I-PASS compatible with other toll systems like it is with EZ PASS, eliminating signs saying what politician got the road built, variable speed limits, car pool lanes, allowing public transit, and so much more. Follow this link to have your say and see what others had to say!


  1. 1. B Clark from Hawaii on November 1, 2010

    We rented a car and stopped at the tollbooths and paid cash (far right lane) for the tolls. Next thing we know toll charges show up on our VISA bills along with a $20 convenience fee. When I called to dispute, I was told there was a transponder on our car that Budget never told us about. We never entered the epass lane and had to stop to get the correct amount from the toll worker. We were asked if we had receipts. Of course not. Now I'm told these transponders pick up from any lane, which is ridiculous. Why is there a special lane for them? Doesn't that defeat the purpose of having them?? I was also informed the toll gate worker should have noticed the transponder and let us through. You people really have a system going there - charging people twice for the same toll! I suggest these transponders only be activated from the special pass lanes. Also it would help to train your employees to look for them. I would assume you take photos of cars who run the booths. Don't you take photos of cars with transponders in the cash lane who are paying the tolls??

  2. 2. Nicole Jose on April 1, 2011

    I recently lost vision and can no longer drive myself anywhere. I have no income and am waiting to get assistance from Disability. Where do I go lately? Hospitals, pharmacy's & doctors. Who drives me? Anyone I can find. My transponder didn't pick up some tolls and I was unable to "SEE" the warning light. Due to the loss of vision, I was also unable to read mail until I was able to get a friends help. We found that the IL tollway has sent me to collections for the "unpaid" tolls, with fines of over $1,200.00. The actual cost of the "unpaid" tolls was under $8.00!

    So, the IL Tollway is going after vision disabled individuals to take what money they don't have. After calling to ask if they could apply the "unpaid" tolls to my transponder. I was told no. They also stated that my transponder would be disabled until the fines were paid in full. TO ADD, the IL Tollway had my car registration and driver’s license suspended due to the "unpaid" fines. I asked to speak with a supervisor and was told they were "unavailable."

    This information will be shared with the local Chicago news stations - IL Tollway Discrimination of the Vision Disabled!

  3. 3. Sherry Daniel from Texas on May 10, 2011

    The tollways in Illinois are a JOKE!!!! What a way to get money out of those visiting the state, which by the the way, NEVER want to do again. In Texas when you drive through a toll you are billed for that each month. But Ilinois, NO. You have to read the small signs telling you to go online with 7 days to pay the toll. WHAT A JOKE!!!!! Oh then you have to schedule a hearing within 5 - 7days or your fined again!!! Three tolls and 166.00 later. Oh and by the way, they didn't have the address right associated with the vehical so we didn't get the letter in the appropriate time. Then when called to schedule a hearing and told them our address didn't contain the last three digits associated to the Address and asked to to change it, did they, NO. Therefore the letter was late again and now we can't submit the hearing in time for consideration and we can't pay the fine online and has to pay by mail since we are out of state. Are you just asking those outside the state of Illinoise NOT to come to your state????? Certainly, the message we got. Disgusting!!! I guest anyone driving through your state must go online and read about your tolls prior to driving through the state or reading all the small signs about the toll instead of focusing on driving. MAKES PERFECT SENSE, NOT.

  4. 4. John on June 7, 2014

    Illinois tollway is legally highway robbery. I live in this crappy state and do not use tollway if possible. to get an ipass, the state has to hold my money, but they won't pay me interest on it. If I buy one and put it on a card, then they will deduct from my account when it gets low on funds. They do not tell you when they take it out so, if you go that route, you may end up with bounced check fees like my friend did. The tollway "authority" discriminates against non ipass users by way of double tolls and fines. How is this legal? I'm expected to have buckets of change in my car to pay for tolls, because the tollway refuses to put change machines in place of toll operators they got rid of. Eight dollar violation = more than 1000 percent fine.
    Crooks........the whole lot.

More posts by Emily

All posts by Emily »

MPC on Twitter

Follow us on Twitter »

Stay in the loop!

MPC's Regionalist newsletter keeps you up to date with our work and our upcoming events.?

Subscribe to Regionalist

Most popular news

Browse by date »

This page can be found online at

Metropolitan Planning Council 140 S. Dearborn St.
Suite 1400
Chicago, Ill. 60603
312 922 5616

Sign up for newsletter and alerts »

Shaping a better, bolder, more equitable future for everyone

For more than 85 years, the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) has partnered with communities, businesses, and governments to unleash the greatness of the Chicago region. We believe that every neighborhood has promise, every community should be heard, and every person can thrive. To tackle the toughest urban planning and development challenges, we create collaborations that change perceptions, conversations—and the status quo. Read more about our work »

Donate »