Illinois Gov. George Ryan has his staff looking for ways the state could eliminate tolls and traffic-clogging toll booths but since he's ruling out an increase in gas taxes, there's a big question of how to make up for the lost toll revenue.
In an interview with the Chicago Tribune, Ryan says "drastic changes are needed." Spokesman Dennis Colloton says Ryan believes the toll stops are a nuisance.
Ryan initially wanted to disband the system entirely, but admits that might be difficult. In a speech last week to Illinois' League of Women Voters, Ryan suggested reducing the number of stops instead. "Most people don't mind the 30 or 40 cents" they drop into the booths, he said. "They mind having to stop all the time."
Ryan's position is in stark contrast to Art Philip, who Ryan recently appointed as the new chairman of the Illinois Toll Highway Authority. Philip has repeatedly said raising tolls is inevitable.
Illinois began using toll roads in the 1950s. The toll booths were supposed to be removed once the construction debt was repaid. But as more toll roads were built, more debt built up, and the tolls were never lifted. The roads are maintained by the Toll Highway Authority, a largely independent government body with a history of questionable spending habits.