Saturday, November 7, 2015

Highway Robbery in Illinois' Toll Hell

Visiting Sonya Ann recently meant traveling into and through the great state of Illinois, specifically around the Chi-town area.

I have decided after this trip that the Illinois Tollway System is the biggest PITA I have ever experienced!
It is confusing and designed to make you, the user, have an aneurysm or a stroke if you don't live in Illinois and have an I-Pass account.

I-Pass is the Illinois toll paying account for using Illinois toll roadways.  If you are from the East it's the same thing as an EZ-Pass.  You have a transponder in your car and you load your account to pay for tolls electronically instead of having to stop at a toll booth and pay the old fashioned way, with cash monies.

Since we don't use many toll roads in our daily life(nor in our traveling life for personal use)neither Hubs or I have an EZ-Pass.
It works for us fine everywhere we go, except for THIS trip to Illinois!

Not only is the price of gasoline in this area sky high, they also extort you every few miles on the roadways by requiring you to pay tolls on the major roadways.

We stopped at each toll booth on our trip home through the tollway maze that is suburban Chicago, and paid with cash and got a receipt(I ALWAYS get receipts at toll booths when traveling, without fail!).
From entering Illinois until almost leaving the ChiTown area we paid $30.00 in tolls!
This included $2.80 toll when we mistakenly kept going down a road that turned into a toll road before we saw the sign on the way back from Milwaukee on an excursion.

Compared to the $15.75 it cost to cross the breadth of Ohio via the Turnpike or the $8.20 it cost to cross the breadth of Indiana on it's Tollway, just tooling around the Chicago 'burbs cost us $30+ in tolls!
Now which of these was the worst deal, huh?

We paid $30 in tolls while in Northern Illinois except we needed to pay $31.50.

When we were driving home and left I-294 to get onto I-57 to Southern IL there was NO toll booth!
You could only pay with I-Pass as you left at Toll Plaza 42 to get onto I-57.

Even in Indiana which is notorious for unmanned toll booths(on some less traveled exits)there may not be a person to take your cash but they have machines to insert cash and get change.
But this no toll booth deal was new to us.....

As you drove down this stretch of I-294 toward the exit in question, they had many signs on this stretch of roadway about having 7 days from the date of not paying this toll to go online to pay this toll or else some nefarious fate would befall you......

Way to go Illinois!  Make your visitors feel all warm and fuzzy inside why dontcha!

So I sat down a couple of days ago at my computer and attempted to go online and pay this toll the state of Illinois forced us to not pay by not having a means to pay for out of state visitors who didn't foresee the need to have an I-Pass account.

Let me just say that if the traffic and congestion on the roads outside of Chicago isn't enough to cause you to foam at the mouth then trying to pay a "missed" toll in this clusterf**k of a system is!!!

First off, you have to remember the actual toll exit number/gate/plaza you didn't pay at. 
Who the hell traveling from somewhere else has the presence of mind to commit to memory a toll plaze/exit number? lol
Of course, I DO recall many signs at the time with the AMOUNT we were suppose to pay but can't recall a single sign with a toll number for that spot.

All the signage on the roadway at the time said the toll due in question was .75¢.
And once I figured out the Toll Number 35 minutes after starting this process on their website, I discovered that the .75¢ is only if you pay through an I-Pass account.  The cash rate is $1.50.  None of the signs on the roadway at that time said anything about a higher cash rate until you go onto the IL website.
Thanks for giving only half the information!

So I have finally gotten this thing paid and can sleep at night without worrying the authorities from Illinois DOT will come kidnap me from my bed.

But really, I have to ask......WHY set up a system that attempts to trick out of state drivers into breaking your highway laws by not providing a system for said drivers to pay their highway usage fees at the time of use?
Next time I need to drive South from Chicago 'burbs I'll go west and THEN South on non-toll roads and avoid this Toll Hell!

So the moral of this story is the Highway Robbery & Chicanery is alive and doing quite well in Northern Illinois.
But then again I shouldn't be surprised as Chicago has a long held and hard-earned reputation as a World Capital of Thievery and Political Shenanigans......



  1. I wonder what would happen if a person without access to a computer or computer skills happened onto the hell and was not able to pay.

    1. That would be a pretty weak excuse nowadays, since paying the tolls online only requires the basest of computer/internet skills- we're talking, at most, Windows 2000-era sophistication, here. Considering that this is America, chances are that people who don't know how to use the computer/internet to that extent probably don't have one. They'd have to go to a library or some other public-access spot, where people who would be available to help them. The only explanation I can think of for them not being able to access a library is if they were subsistence farmers in the middle of nowhere...Amish, basically, in which case they probably wouldn't be on the toll roads in the first place, haha. Anyways, the point I'm trying to maker here is that, as much as I despise the Illinois tollway, this scenario is super unlikely.

    2. I was not able to figure out their online system.. went through numerous tolls thinking I could figure it it... and not being able to get out of thevery left lane... they bill you $25 per toll.... so a if I had paid as I went it would have been under $20... now it's $132... it's entrapment at its finest. Not even owned by the state anymore. They sold to a company in Japan!

  2. Vancouver, British Columbia has a toll bridge with the same system. Hubby accidentally went across and then had to go back across 3 minutes later as was going the wrong direction. No booth. Locals pay in advance. We got a bill in the mail which is double the normal rate, which sucks as it was a business trip that we normally charge all expenses back to the client - but they sent the bill 2 months later so we had to eat it. I hate that.

    1. I read this paragraph with a northern accent just because it began with Vancouver BC. Not intentionally but... Just because I imagined that's how ya talked it out in yer head when you were thinkin bout it eh?

  3. Yeah Joe and I got nailed for 38 bucks when we took a wrong g turn for two blocks. Sucks. I wrote a letter to the governor, he has not written back.

  4. I've driven to and through Chicago a hundred times (living only three hours away) and I know the hell you're speaking of but we manage to steer as clear as toll roads as we can. I have a feeling we blew through that same toll at one point. Look at you going online to try and pay a missed 75 cent, ah hem, $1.50 toll. Gold star for Sluggy!

    We could not figure out where the heck you were supposed to pay. "where is the toll booth?" oops, but so far no one has stolen me from my bed at night. I also didn't realize you could admit your sin and pay online. It was late. It was dark. We were tired... I love Chicago and at the same time your end remarks are spot on.

  5. Wow, what a nightmare, Sluggy. I grew up in Northern Illinois, but it wasn't bad there then like it is now. My brother and sister still live there and my brother once received a bill from Illinois for $300 because his I-Pass had expired and he didn't realize it. Makes me want to never move back there again.

    My Dad say Kentucky tolls are much better. Kentucky will put a toll booth on a road until it is paid for and then they remove it. Can't beat that.

    Glad your headache is over for now and you can sleep at night knowing the toll booth trolls will not come for you. :) Sleep tight!

  6. I live in Illinois but in Central Il. We went to the suburbs last year and got in the wrong lane for the toll and couldnt get over. I figured i would go online and pay it later. Since i had to go online anyway we went through the ipass lane for the next one. Well being me i forgot and ended up paying $75 for $3 in tolls. Ouch ! I got a nice little letter in the mail from the state. :)

  7. I remember moving to Chicago in 1988 and the tolls were an outrage; when I left 2000 people were still in an outrage but the tolls remained. They are like the rocks of Stonehenge; nothing knocks them down.

  8. Illinois tollroads can be a nightmare. The traffic is terrible as well. We have an IPass and was glad to have it as we traveled through other states with their tollroads. Living in the far west suburbs of Illinois we can circumvent some of the tollroads. Traveling east though is hard. We have lots of wetlands and rivers Sometimes it takes too long to try and go around places There are not easy roads to use. I suppose other states have mountains.
    Our tollroads provide employment and help keep our state taxes lower. With our heavy traffic load we constantly have to do road maintanance. Our state is a crossroads for people and trucks going all four directions across the United States. It is further complicated with the 6 or 7 million people who live here.
    As to the price of our gasoline, I can find no reason why it is so high. I use GasBuddy on my phone and that helps my budget.
    I am sorry this area is a nightmare to travel though.

  9. What I hate most is using toll roads when we have no idea where we are going, taking the wrong exit, then having to pay more. I agree it is highway robbery and extortion.

  10. Why do you think I complain ALL THE TIME!!!!!! I think we Illinoisans would be much nicer if the state wasn't sticking it to us at every turn.

  11. Absolutely the same experience at "Virtual Toll Plaza 42"! I just received a notice of 4 violations that I did not know I committed: 1.50 plus a $20 fine for each! I was conditioned to look for REAL toll plazas and bear to the right to pay plaza to me meant no toll due. Little did I know that I, a stranger to the area, was supposed to read a sign while traveling on an interstate highway and merging with traffic. This is a pure and simple entrapment scam, with the "fig leaf" that the sign was there, and so I should know to go online and pay it (what if I'm not computer literate!).

    If this is indicative of how the folks in Illinois run their state, no wonder they are in such a mess. Shame to all...the people who allowed such a nefarious practice, and the voters who put them in office. Literally "highway robbery"....I just wish that 60 minutes or same national show would shine a light on these cockroaches and watch them scatter!

  12. The website is terrible (no wonder). You have to add your information (easy) then look for each highway and toll station you came across. In one day you can easily go to 8 or more on return trips. If you are driving how are you suppose to write this information down? This is a corrupt system and an abuse. The only reason others say it's okay is because they already have a transponder, but if you recently came to a town with no I-Pass and then you forget to carry change or your wallet or you didn't see the exit to the toll plaza or sometimes some exits are only I-Pass what are you suppose to do? Sure you can't use your cellphone to talk but they expect you to keep track of all the places and somehow write them down or memorize them when you go to the website. You also only have access to the website for 7 days and then you have to call or wait until they send you the fines. This is the most corrupt system. But sure once you pay $150 on a trip to Chicago and then then get your transponder you can be a happy little worker bee and tell everyone how incompetent everyone who happens to have the misfortune of driving to Chicago. I would understand if you get fined $20 at a time, but if you have multiple violations you are looking at $20 per incident and then you are labelled a crook. Who is the real crook?


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