Letter: Stop talk of privatizing tollway system

By on February 18, 2010

Recently there has been some talk of our state legislators now wanting to privatize Illinois’ tollway system so that they can pay off the state’s debt.

What are they thinking?

Legislators should not be debating privatization, but be more troubled that their constituency should have to pay a toll/tax at all to use Illinois highways. Over the last 60 years, the media have had story after story about the corruption coming out of the toll authority headquarters in Downers Grove, Ill., and we have read of our state legislators lining their pockets for support of a tollway system.

What many Illinois citizens don’t understand is that everyone is paying for the tollway system regardless if they use these roads or not. Every time you see a truck on a tollway road hauling goods to the automobile dealer, to the clothing store, to the ice cream store or to the gas station, or seeing a limousine on their way to the airport, the higher toll/tax that those drivers must pay to use these roads is passed on to you, the consumer. Money also comes from our real estate taxes when school buses use these roads. Even life and death ambulances on their way to an accident or to the hospital pay a toll/tax.

With privatization, can you imagine what we would pay for an I-PASS once a private company starts factoring in their profit? We’ve seen what happened in Chicago with their parking meters, and we’ve seen that we can’t count on our legislators to have oversight; they can’t even fix today’s problems in Springfield.

By adding just a few cents at the fuel pump, we would not have to think about privatization, corruption in the Downers Grove office, putting cash in legislator’s pockets, keeping a balance in an I-PASS account or unjust fines.

We need to tell our legislators that we don’t need or want a tollway system in Illinois and that the one and a half million daily users have paid for these roads many times over during the last 60 years. You need to also remind them that elections are coming up in November.

Russell Johnson
Sugar Grove