The following news item from ABC 7 features TUA’s lawsuit against the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority.

December 20, 2011 (CHICAGO) (WLS) — A judge allowed the tollway authority to go ahead with a massive hike in fees Tuesday. On January 1, 2012, the average Illinois Tollway fare will nearly double.

These days most drivers don’t even have to slow down to pay a toll. But soon, the cost may have drivers hitting the brakes.

“I go through three tolls on the way to work and three on the way home. That’s six total. It adds up,” said driver Husam Nofal.

“The cost is $5 in some places for trucks, almost $2 for cars. Diesel fuel, everything is going up,” said truck driver Will Grinstead. “It really makes it rough. You want to find alternate routes. People will go around the tolls.”

A last ditch effort by a taxpayer watchdog group to get not just the toll hike but the toll road itself declared illegal failed Tuesday when a judge tossed out the case.

“The Tollways were never intended to be permanent,” said Andrew Spiegel, Taxpayers United of America.

Taxpayers United argued that the 1953 law that created the toll authority specifically said Tollways would become freeways after the initial bonds were paid off. But there was one problem with that argument.

“What’s not in the statute and what has never been in the state statute is a date when that is supposed to happen,” said Spiegel.

Starting January 1, 2012 I-PASS users will see their typical tolls go from 40 to 75 cents. Paying a toll in cash will increase from 80 cents to $1.50.

The toll authority’s own website calls the freeway promise “well intended, but shortsighted.” It states simply: “there is no such thing as a free road.” And some drivers agree.

“Forty percent of my local are out of work right now. I’d like to see more construction coming for Illinois…if it puts more people back to work,” said Kevin Keane, driver and union member.

The toll authority plans to spend $12 billion over the next 15 years updating roads.

One point seven million dollars gets thrown into toll buckets every day in Illinois.

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