Tag Archives: interstate 88

Pain in the neck paying my “unpaid toll” in Illinois

Illinois Tollway logo.png

It took me about an hour to figure out how to pay my 60 cent “unpaid toll” on Interstate 284 online, in part because I couldn’t figure out which of the many interchanges was the specific one that I drove through without paying because I had two untenable choices – the exact change lanes or the i-pass lanes, neither of which I had. My advice in the future: if you do drive through without paying – try to figure out or make a mental note of where you are and the exchange number if possible (I don’t recall one being posted anywhere.) And you have to pay within 7 days or supposedly you are liable for a $20 fine. We had another situation like this on I-88 with unpaid tolls (this time because are only option was NOT to pay since the toll booths were unattended after 10 p.m. or so when we were passing through during our drive from Des Moines) and we got some sort of threatening warning that the third unpaid toll would not be a charm. And this was several years ago (we stopped going on I-88 after Illinois jacked up the tolls so markedly and now we go primarily on toll-free I-80…our tolls last week was because we took toll roads to Oak Park and to Evanston rather than taking toll-free I-55 into Chicago, as usual.)

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Filed under Illinois, interstates

Avoiding the overpriced toll roads into Chicago from Iowa – how I avoided I-88

I used to drive from Iowa to Chicago on Interstate 88 through Illinois but not any more. The tolls (especially for drivers paying cash vs. using ipass) have gotten way too high, reaching $10.20 this year. (I used a handy online toll calculator, http://www.illinoistollway.com/tolls-and-i-pass/toll-information/trip-calculator, to confirm that it would have cost me $10.20 to use I-88 between western Illinois and Chicago.)

On the way to Chicago, I drove Interstate 80 which has no tolls (in Illinois at least) although it does have a lot of road construction. But on the way back to Iowa, I had to stop off at my sister’s in Oak Park – which is closer to I-88. So the trick was: how to get to I-80 without adding too much time to my trip or paying too many tolls en route. I’m not sure I succeeded ultimately but here’s what I did: I took I-88 a few miles (paying $1.50 for the privilege) then took 355  for a few miles, which also turned out to be a toll road so I shelled out another $1.90. Then I took 355 to Interstate 55 and then to Interstate 80. Ultimately, I did save money on tolls (about $6.80)  but I  lengthened my trip slightly (by about 20 minutes, I think) and ultimately paid a little more for gas.

This is good information to have since the tolls will continue to rise in coming years, according to recent news reports, showing that they rose by 40 percent on Jan. 1, 2012 and are scheduled to rise by 10 percent each year in 2013 and 2014. argh.

I have a built-in defensive mechanism that allows me to promptly forget how much I pay for things, so I don’t wig out about all the expenses I face. Still I knew for a fact that the tolls had risen because before I didn’t really notice them but now I do, i.e. it’s the difference between repeatedly throwing a couple of quarters and dimes into a toll booth collection net and handing over a couple of bucks each time.



Filed under Chicago

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