Tollways to get technical upgrade


COOK COUNTY — Your next trip to Chicago could mean more ways to pay tolls. Soon, tollbooths which only accepted change will be a thing of the past.

Tollway officials want to install new digital screens so people can pay with cards or cash. Right now, the tolls are more than 20-years old.

New digital touchscreens will give people more options, but installing them will not be cheap.

Have you ever been in a situation where you approach a toll and realize you don’t have any cash or coins on you? The Illinois Tollways says it happens more often than you think.

“It would happen frequently actually, and then I might forget to pay it. They charge, like $25 for paying late.”

That’s why the Illinois Tollway will soon replace automatic coin buckets with digital machines to give people more options. The new ones will accept coins, cash or a card.

“It’s almost more convenient in a sense that you don’t have to worry about having change on you. You can just pay it later.”

But, the machines won’t come cheap. Just one costs $76,000. However, the Illinois Tollway Agency is footing the bill, not taxpayers.

“We all have to pay the tolls. Yes, I think it will make it more accountable. Paying tolls is a pain in the neck, but it’s the way Illinois works.”

However, not everyone agrees the new digital machines will make a difference.

“People do not throw the correct change to begin with. Truck drivers, more or less, try to avoid them because it’s a hindrance.”

About 100 of the machines still exist. A lot are outdated with the use of I-Pass lanes. The new machines will also videotape transactions if there are any problems with a payment to be resolved later.

“I can see why you can simplify things that, if you have multiple types of infrastructure, everything is going digital anyways. It would make more sense.”

A spokesperson for the Illinois Tollway Agency says the total project will cost about $33 million and installation of the new ones will begin toward the end of the year.

Coin tollway machines generate about $14 million a year. Tollway officials say they expect that number to increase as traffic flow continues to rise.

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