Variable toll lanes alongside regular tolls going on I-90 Jane Addams Tollway NW out of Chicago

May 26, 2012

An Interstate 90 Corridor Planning Council comprising a bunch of different municipalities and agencies has reached a consensus that dynamically priced toll lanes are needed going northwest out of Chicago some 21 miles on the Jane Addams Memorial (JAM) Tollway. And it says the 7.3 miles of the Kennedy Expressway need similar treatment.

 In the Tollway the immediate plan is add inside toll express lanes and support improved bus service along about 21 miles between IL31 in Elgin and the I-294 Tristate Tollway at the Kennedy Expressway. The Tollway here would be widened from 2x3 lanes to 2x4 lanes.

The Tollway can raise the money for the JAM Tollway managed lanes, and is likely to move quickly to build these.

Also needed the report says is some kind of toll managed lanes in the Kennedy Expressway. has a central 2-lanes reversible HOV facility that is poorly managed without any pricing. Also I-90 the Kennedy is a natural extension of the JAM Tollway in to downtown Chicago.

The consensus plan reached by the corridor planning council outlines a phased plan in which dynamically priced lanes on the JAM Tollway could be later taken over by transit as exclusive bus lanes and then, perhaps later again, rail transit could take over from the buses in the inside lanes.

Widening under way

The Tollway recently third lanes both directions of traffic on 16 miles of the I-90 JAM Tollway from the Wisconsin border south to I-39 in Rockford to match third laning in Wisconsin.

It is starting soon on 4th laning of the segment from I-39 in Rockford east 36 miles to the Elgin toll plaza. From Elgin the toll managed lanes would be built 21 miles in to the Tristate/Kennedy interchange not far from O'Hare airport. Two interchanges would be modernized and a completely new one built at IL47.

The Tollway has budgeted $2.2b for the project with $240m to go for bus transit improvements. They want to start the project next year and complete it by 2016.

Wilbur Smith study

A study conducted by Wilbur Smith Associates for the Tollway and the Metro Planning Council reported in July 2010 suggested that the plan to operate a variably price or toll-managed lane on the JAM Tollway was feasible.

Modeling of 2020 conditions showed for example that  with No-Build the 21 miles IL31-I-294/Kennedy could take 69 minutes or an average speed of little more than 18mph. With the extra dynamically priced lane and a toll of $5.89 the trip would take only 21 minutes at an average speed of 60mph.

The regular toll lanes would see the trip take 37 minutes or an average speed of 36mph. These charge $3.00 to an I-PASS transponder account holder, or $6.00 cash based on the current charges at the Elgin and River Road toll plazas. Motorists joining the JAM Tollway east of the Elgin plaza only pay at the River Road plaza  - their cost is $1.50 with a transponder account and $3.00 cash.

The JAM Tollway managed lanes would generate $29m/year WSA modeling suggested.

Toll management of the reversibles in the Kennedy Expressway - an Illinois DOT facility - would allow a 9 minute trip inbound 7.3 miles for an average toll of $2.21 versus a 20 minute 22mph trip in the free lanes alongside.

The Kennedy Reversibles were modeled to generate $23m/year in tolls.

Sentiment in the region is quite receptive to tolls where they support improved road conditions according to a revealed preference survey.

corridor planning council report:

on WSA study of toll-managed lanes

TOLLROADSnews 2012-05-25

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