Toll lanes could be used to expand Stevenson Expressway

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Gov. Bruce Rauner, joined by state Rep. Jim Durkin (to his right) and other officials announced a plan Thursday to add toll lanes to I-55. | Stefano Esposito/Sun-Times

Gov. Bruce Rauner wants to add toll lanes to a congested 25-mile stretch of Interstate 55, and he’s considering a rideshare-like model that would boost tolls depending on the amount of traffic.

The plan, which calls for a public-private partnership that would require legislative approval, would add at least one lane in each direction along the Stevenson between the Dan Ryan Expressway and Interstate 355, Rauner said. About 170,000 cars use this stretch of highway daily.

The current lanes would be used free of charge, but Rauner said his office wants “dynamic pricing” for the new proposed express lanes.

“If they’re in a hurry and they want to get around the congestion, [drivers] can pay a toll — and we’ll try to keep the toll as modest as we can — so they can get where they need to go very quickly,” Rauner said.

Signs along the Stevenson would inform drivers about the level of congestion and the toll level to bypass it, Rauner said.

The exact plan for the tolls and whether the lanes might include carpooling is still being finalized, Rauner said. The plan is for construction to begin in late 2017.

“It’s a critical economic corridor” that is “heavily congested,” Rauner said. “We need to begin to relieve the congestion on I-55 in order to continue our economic growth here in Illinois.”

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