The group Taxpayers United of America filed a lawsuit today challenging the 87.5 percent toll increase approved last month by the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority.
The suit, filed in Cook County Circuit Court, seeks to roll back the 35-cent increase in the basic I-PASS rate that the tollway board approved to pay for a 15-year, $12.1 billion construction program.
The suit alleges the tollway authority violated state law by failing to convert tollways to freeways and by failing to plan for its own dissolution, which the taxpayers group contends is required by law.
“The tollway is a creature of statute that went into effect in July 1953,” Taxpayers United President Jim Tobin said in a statement. “I recall that the slogan of the authority was ‘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 his group intends to ask the court to enjoin any attempt to impose the higher tolls until the tollway authority complies with the law.
The suit asks for a class action on behalf of tollway users, Tobin said.
A spokeswoman for the tollway said today the agency hasn’t seen the complaint, so it would be premature to comment.
“But we are confident that we followed the process as required under state laws,” Wendy Abrams said.