Millions of Dollars Owed to Tollway by Vehicle Owners

Tollway takes top toll violators to court – Is This Unfair or Reasonable ?

This is an interesting story from the Chicago Tribune.  A Sandwich plumbing company has racked up more than $60,000 in unpaid tolls and fines, according to the Illinois Tollway. A day care center in Maywood owes more than $19,000. A trucking company in Streamwood has ignored repeated demands that it pay $152,000.

These amounts, according to lawsuits filed this month in Cook and DuPage counties, are just a portion of the millions of dollars the tollway says it is owed by vehicle owners who use the toll roads but refuse to pay for the privilege.

The tollway took those companies and dozens more to court to force them to pay the money the tollway says they owe, about $1.8 million, as of last count.

That’s small change compared with the $300 million in unpaid tolls and fines the tollway says deadbeats have avoided paying since 2001.

To put the number in a more meaningful context for the average motorist: $300 million is more revenue than the tollway anticipates taking in this year from the controversial 87.5 percent toll hike that went into effect Jan. 1. All told, the agency expects to reap $973 million in toll revenue this year.

The agency’s legal crackdown has the support of many tollway users, but some wonder why it didn’t come sooner.

“It’s time for them to pay up,” said Tyree Gee, 24, who takes the tollway from Hyde Park to his job in Hinsdale. “I am surprised they haven’t cracked down on these companies sooner. Why did it take them so long? That’s just ridiculous.”

Although “open-road tolling” has eliminated much congestion on the tollway system, it allows scofflaws to bypass toll plazas and gates — assuming they aren’t deterred by the prospect of being hounded by collection agencies or having their license plates suspended.

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