February 19th, 2020
WLS 890AM | Taxpayer group sues Illinois Tollway over toll increase
The following article on WLS 890AM features TUA’s lawsuit against the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority.
CHICAGO (WLS) – Taxpayers United of America has filed a lawsuit against the Illinois Tollway, seeking to roll back the 87.5 percent toll increase approved last month.
The suit, filed Thursday in Cook County Circuit Court, seeks an injunction to stop the increase, claiming the Tollway was intended to have a “perpetual existence” and has instead continued to issue and re-issue bonds for new construction without making roads whose bonds have been paid off into freeways.
The $12 billion, 15-year capital improvement plan was approved by the Illinois Tollway Board on Aug. 25, with increases ranging from 35 to 45 cents at most toll plazas for I-Pass users. The average driver will spend an average $132 more a year on tolls.
The suit alleges the Tollway acted beyond it’s authority by adopting the plan with no priority given to complying with its “limited statutory existence” and without any indication of which tollways have been paid for and should be converted to freeways.
“The tollway is a creature of statute that went into effect in July 1953,” Jim Tobin, president of Taxpayers United of America, said in a statement. “The slogan of the authority was ‘Toll Free in ’73.’ That was when the toll roads were to be paid off and converted to freeways.
“Instead, the tollway keeps expanding, building more toll roads and hiking tolls, ensuring that it will live forever. This is contrary to the legislative intent of its creators.” Tobin said.
The Illinois Tollway on Thursday said the agency had not yet seen the complaint and could not comment. “But we are confident that we followed the process as required under state laws,” spokeswoman Wendy Abrams said.
The two-count suit seeks class-action status on behalf of all Tollway users. It seeks damages, punitive damages, attorneys’ fees and additional relief.
The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.
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