Trapped by the “Illinois Tollway Unattended Toll Plaza” experiment on I-88

So we’re driving late at night on I-88 through Illinois en route to Chicago and we pull up to yet another tollbooth with our money in hand, $1.90, all ready to dutifully pay – and instead no one is in the booth and we’re greeted by a little flyer that tells us to pay online or by mail.

So we go on vacation for ten days, come home and I pull out the little flyer and find out that we have now committed a VIOLATION because we have not paid our toll within seven days. This hardly seems fair.  Is it really OUR fault that the Illinois DOT has decided to save money by closing this one tollbooth from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. – which is often when we manage to arrive in Chicago after a long after-work drive from Iowa?

Okay, we could have paid it within 7 days but we were away from home and computers and checkbooks – which is what a VACATION is all about !!  What really irks me is that it appears from the wording that even if you DO pay after 7 days this still counts as a VIOLATION. And after three VIOLATIONS within 24 months you’re in deep do-do. So there’s really no incentive to pay after 7 days because you’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Why not give people a wee bit more time to pay – or just increase by increments the fee if it arrives after 7 days?

When I finally found someone to talk to about this at the Illinois Tollway office, she told me I was okay if I just paid by mail – i can’t pay online after 7 days.  So I’ve just sent in my check. But the wording below suggests otherwise.

Here’s the online info.

You have 7 Days to Make Your Payment

  • The Illinois Tollway grants a 7-day grace period to pay your unpaid toll.

If you DO NOT have an I-PASS
Making a payment can be done online or through the mail. Choose one of graphics below to learn more.

If you live outside the United States you must pay an unpaid toll by mail.
pay online image

pay by mail image

Have the required information available
  • Name of registered vehicle owner
  • Plate State/Number/Type (specialty plates must be identified)
  • Unpaid Toll: Location/Plaza/Date/Time

Use our Toll Calculator to determine the total cost of your tolls.

In the event of unknown plazas or direction, toll calculations will be based on the maximum charge (per toll) on our system for your vehicle category.

Maximum charge per toll:

  • Passenger Car (2 axle) – $2.00
  • Small Truck (2-axle) – $3.00
  • Medium Truck (3-4-axle) – $4.50
  • Large Truck (5 axle) – $8.00

Missed the 7-day Grace Period?

  • The unpaid toll has now become a violation.
  • Violation notices are issued when 3 or more unpaid toll/violations are recorded over a 24-month period. Fines will be assessed.
  • Payment after the 7-day grace period does not remove that toll from violation status.

Failure to pay tolls can result in fines and possible suspension of your license plate and/or your driver’s license.

Pay by Mail

In order to avoid the incident from being recorded as a toll violation, the mailed in toll payment envelope must:

  • Have all the required information filled out completely
  • Be delivered or mailed to the Tollway within 7 calendar days of the unpaid toll.

It is recommended you pay by check because your cancelled check is your receipt.

You can mail your payment with unpaid toll information to:

Illinois Tollway
2700 Ogden Avenue
Downers Grove, IL 60515
Attn: Cash Handling Division

What is the Illinois Tollway Unattended Toll Plaza Pilot Program?
The Illinois Tollway has launched a pilot program designed to improve efficiencies and reduce costs at
mainline toll plazas when traffic volumes are low. At the Pilot locations, Open Road Tolling lanes will be
operational 24/7, however all manned toll booths will be unattended between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. and
only the far right cash lane will be open to allow cash‐paying drivers to pick up a toll payment form.
Cash‐paying customers will be given the option to pay online or mail in toll payments within the 7‐day
grace period.
Where will this pilot be conducted?
The Illinois Tollway has selected two toll plazas – the Spring Creek Toll Plaza (PL 99) on the Veterans
Memorial Tollway (I‐355) and the Dixon Toll Plaza (PL 69) on the Reagan Memorial Tollway (I‐88).
Manned toll collection lanes will be unattended during the overnight hours of 10 p.m. until 6 a.m. when
traffic volumes are the lowest.
When does the pilot program begin and how long will it be in place?
As of February 16, 2010, the Unattended Toll Plaza Pilot Program is effective at the selected plazas. The
Pilot Program will be evaluated over the next three months.
Why not reopen the cash baskets at the Toll Plazas?
Exact change baskets were eliminated from mainline toll plazas when


Filed under Illinois, interstates

12 responses to “Trapped by the “Illinois Tollway Unattended Toll Plaza” experiment on I-88

  1. megan

    when i experienced this “pilot program” i was furious i do not have a checking account and i refuse to pay for a stamp and a money order for the $2.00 toll fee, and when i try calling secretary of state to place a complaint i get the run-around about who i need to contact. It’s all very sad that such a scam was allowed to take place but i suppose that’s our corrupt little system for ya

  2. Matt Goebel

    I too was trapped by the Illinois version of the Hazard County speed trap. Travelling to work in Illinois from Wisconsin requires me to pass the tollway at 5AM. I payed the $1.90 in the mail or online by credit card and have still received violations, since they have an unreliable way of matching the payments I made up with my vehicle/date/time/tollway etc. I was unaware of the trouble I was in until I requested an I-Pass which they rejected and rather sent me a violation notice for $87.60. This program is absolutely ridiculus for out of state travellers. Something needs to be done. This is robbery. I have never been so furious!

  3. peter

    Coming home after Superbowl on I355 had to grab a form with my money in hand. I think it should be against the law and someone should do something about this!

  4. Well, this sucks! I just got a bill from National Car Rental for $3.60 of unpaid toll plus $15 Admin fee!!

    I was pretty sure that I paid every toll fee so I Googled Plaza 69 Dixon and found this post.

    Now I remember an unattended gate. I was ready to pay an attendant or throw some coins in a basket but since I didn’t see either and it was close to midnight, I assumed that it’s closed and I don’t have to pay anything. I didn’t even see any flyers or signs telling me to pay online.

    What a rip off!

    Thank you for writing this post.

  5. Whtascam

    How about this? Due to being lost, I was given the wrong directions by the security guard at my school. Did not know I-355 was a toll until I got on the ramp; however, when I reached the toll, I saw the notice that I could pay online at, so that’s what I intended to do since I didn’t have change; however, when I got to the website that night to pay, the website says that you can’t pay until after 7 days; but the grace period is before 7 days…??? When I saw this, I mailed in $2.40, ($1.90, $.50) because that was the amount of the tolls. A few weeks later, I get a bill for $63.90, what a scam!

  6. $83.30 is what it cost me for $3.30 worth of tolls! They assessed a $20 fine for each one. We, too were travelling through from out of state and encountered unattended toll booths. We did not see anything stating that you must pay in 7 days or pay that ridiculous fine! We were just waiting for the bill to pay the tolls. Was I shocked to see the charges! Like everything else in Illinois, a rip-off. Glad I moved away from there 20 years ago!

  7. Karen

    I just experienced the Overnight Unattended Plaza Program for the first time. Wow! Welcome to Illinois! That is one of the craziest systems I have ever heard of. If you want to collect tolls during those less busy times it is your responsibility to install credit card payment machines. Making people send in a payment (check, envelope, stamp) or taking 20 minutes to fill out the form and pay online is insane. They can handle this in parking ramps; you can do it too.

    • Heather Paar

      Makes me not want to go to Six Flags with my kids now… Never been and probably won’t now. Thanks toll roads. From Iowa.

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