Ditch the Illiana Tollway: 20+ Cases Against the Boondoggle


Illiana Expressway a dead-end for now
May 22, 2015 Editorial

The Illiana would cost $1.5 billion to build and could cost taxpayers another $1.1 billion in subsidies over 35 years. Traffic would be light because the tolls would be high. It would pave over 3,000 acres of farmland and threaten the 19,000-acre Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie. With all the talk of belt-tightening in Springfield, you’d think someone would bury the Illiana proposal under a load of road concrete. But there it was again just last week — allotted $118 million in planning costs — in Gov. Bruce Rauner’s new highway plan.

Tollway project in south suburbs and Indiana losing some traction
Oct. 26, 2014 Article

“Fisher said his opinion of the road plan turned even more negative after the staff of the regional planning group CMAP reported last year that Illiana would cost Illinois taxpayers potentially more than $1 billion while doing little to reduce congestion. Fisher said Illiana potentially takes money from other infrastructure projects, and he said he agrees with a CMAP staff analysis that found the high tolls (necessary to keep the road maintained) would discourage drivers from using it.”

‘Ditch the Illiana,’ 12,856 petitioners urge Rauner
Feb. 18, 2015 Article

A group of Will County residents Wednesday called on Gov. Bruce Rauner to “Ditch the Illiana” Expressway plan as they carried boxes loaded with 12,856 opposition petitions to the governor’s Chicago office. Petitions labeling the Illiana “a boondoggle” were delivered to the Thompson Center shortly before Rauner gave his first budget address as governor. As part of an executive order, the $1.3 billion Illiana is among the major projects under review by the Rauner administration.



Illiana findings disappoint, then disappear
April 2, 2015 Editorial

“When Quinn lost the election, we thought Rauner would quickly stop wasting money on this project. He’s still thinking about it.

Maybe the research underlying that Fitch finding would persuade Rauner that it’s time for Illinois to cut its losses. It’s too bad there’s nothing to show him except that $112,500 invoice.”


Still waiting for Gov. Rauner to kill the Illiana
March 7, 2015 Editorial

Barney Faletti’s house wouldn’t have to be razed to make way for the Illiana toll road, but that’s little comfort. The proposed highway would cut through his neighbor’s farm field, passing within about 150 feet of Faletti’s Wilmington home. His idyllic riverfront haven would be spoiled. His property value would tank.

For what? A privatized trucking highway that Illinois doesn’t need and can’t afford. Regional planners warn that the Illiana wouldn’t carry enough traffic to pay for itself, leaving taxpayers on the hook for up to $1.1 billion in subsidies.


Flying tour of the Illiana’s path
Jan. 21, 2015 Video



Gov. Quinn’s last stand (stunt)
Dec. 18, 2014 Editorial

“His department of Transportation continues to pursue construction of the massively expensive Illiana Expressway, even though Rauner may opt to drop the project. Residents living along the expressway path received letters this week notifying them that appraisers will be at their homes during the holidays to set a price to buy them out.”

Memo to Bruce Rauner: Kill the Illiana Expressway
Nov. 14, 2014 Editorial

“Originally, the plan was for a private partner to build and operate the expressway, recovering its costs — and earning a profit — through toll collections. But no investor would take the bait. As a businessman, Mr. Rauner: Why do you suppose that is?”

Say ‘no’ to the Illiana Expressway (again)
Sept. 29, 2014 Editorial

“If trucks aren’t willing to take this costly detour, the vendor gets paid anyway — by taxpayers. With the Illiana, that’s not a worse-case scenario. It’s virtually guaranteed. The Illiana Expressway was a bad idea in 2013. It’s a worse idea today. It must be stopped.”



Who deserves thanks for 2014 — and who doesn’t 
Dec. 20, 2014 Column by Joe Cahill

“Anybody can lose an election, but Quinn squandered taxpayer dollars doing it. He awarded tens of millions in unnecessary tax subsidies to Illinois companies and continued to the end to push for the unneeded Illiana Expressway, which could cost us $1 billion unless Gov.-elect Rauner kills it.”

Man, that is really an ugly Christmas sweater
Dec. 20, 2014 Cartoon by Roger Schillerstrom

“When it comes to bad judgment, few things compare with outgoing Gov. Pat Quinn’s unneeded Illiana Tollway.”



What Quinn should learn from Indiana Tollway’s bankruptcy
Sept. 29, 2014 Column by Joe Cahill

“Indiana’s experience shows what can happen to the party that takes on [the] risk. The toll road company is in bankruptcy because it bore the risk that toll revenue wouldn’t cover expenses. The state of Indiana is fine because it assumed no financial risk. Analysts figure the deal could cost the state up to $1 billion if the road turns out to be a real clunker.”

Illiana Expressway paved with costly consequences
Feb. 24, 2014 Editorial

“Illiana was sold as a model public-private partnership that would spread the risk equally between the public and an outside contractor. But IDOT studies showed lower-than-expected use of the road — an estimated 19,800 cars a day — by 2040. (Compare that with the Dan Ryan, which 300,000 cars use every day.) Private-industry interest waned. Instead of dropping the project, however, IDOT sweetened the pot: Reneging on a vow not to hit up taxpayers for Illiana, it promised contractors a set amount no matter how much is collected in tolls.”



Kill the Illiana, this time for good
Oct. 3, 2014 Editorial

“[T]he suburbs can only lose. They lose because in making Illiana the priority, other projects that might do a better job fixing gridlock will get shelved or delayed. They lose because the jobs and population that this 47-mile highway will create in Will County will come at the expense of other counties, mostly Cook and Kane. And most of all they lose because CMAP’s own analysis indicates the tolls will be too high to attract the truck traffic the Illiana is being built for. Therefore, the state’s taxpayers will have to subsidize it, while, by at least one analysis, Indiana gets the bulk of the benefit.”



Taxpayers, not Illiana investors, will be on the hook
June 2014 Editorial

“We have no trouble with the idea that an overall government ought to pay for transportation. […] Otherwise we would be sitting home in the dark. But to guarantee that plan, regardless of the outcome, leaves a sour taste in our mouth. Would toll shortfalls be more important than, say, school funding? Investment without risk seems like water without wet.”



Will County homeowners extremely upset over proposed Illiana Expressway
Dec. 24, 2014 Story

“Some Will County homeowners opened their mailboxes last week and got a Christmas gut punch from the Illinois Department of Transportation.”

Fox News General Manager Dennis Welsh discusses the proposed Illiana Expressway
Oct. 30, 2014 Editorial

FOX 32 News Chicago


Pull the plug on political highway
Nov. 12, 2014 Editorial

“[W]ho’s really for this? Not the CMAP Board, which last month voted 10-4 not to include the Illiana in its 2040 plan … Not Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Not Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. Even some business organizations that initially pushed hard for the road have begun to back off now that more details have emerged. Despite the sweet up-front guarantees, no obvious private sector partner to build the road has stepped forward. The Illinois Toll Highway Authority is steering clear. The national attention…has not been flattering.”



Pull plug on the Illiana
March 18, 2015 Editorial

“Gov. Bruce Rauner has put a hold on many state spending programs because of the lack of funds. But there’s one project that he ought to kill outright — the proposed Illiana Expressway in Will County. Most people have never heard of the Illiana, and that’s too bad. The more people who know about it, the more people there would be who would oppose it.”

Making bad situation worse
Sept. 15, 2014 Editorial

“Although cast as a partnership involving the states of Illinois, Indiana and private developers, the agreement exposes Illinois taxpayers to substantial costs and risks while assuring the developers a guaranteed profit.”



Proposed tollway project needs to shelved
April 8, 2015 Editorial

“While we generally support road project because of the economic boost that’s created, the Illiana is doomed to be an expensive failure, with already-strapped taxpayers footing the bill. If the state has money to throw around on verbal reports, any driver can provide a list of roads that need some attention.”




Kill the $1.3 billion Illiana Tollway boondoggle, avoid 39 years of taxpayer pain
Sept. 26, 2014 Article

“IDOT has implied that tolls for cars using the Illiana would be 23 cents per mile, which is nearly four times the 6-cent per mile rate on existing Illinois toll roads. Despite glaring red flags, IDOT has designated the little known Illiana tollway the state’s number one road project, even though it will divert few vehicles from existing congestion zones. [The Illiana] also will take 2600 acres of prime farm land out of production and off of the tax rolls. The Illiana is the gift that keeps on taking. Taxpayers will be paying for this white elephant for 39 years.”



Illinois can’t afford Illiana boondoggle
Oct. 4, 2014 Editorial






Time for Rauner to scrap the Illiana Expressway
March 14, 2015 Editorial

“Gov. Bruce Rauner has put a hold on the Illiana Expressway, just as he’s put a hold on every other big project in Illinois. But he hasn’t killed Illiana, which is a surprise considering the austerity of his proposed budget and his commitment to doing away with wasteful spending.”

Illiana project too risky for tapped-out Illinois
Nov. 23, 2014 Editorial

  “Lame-duck Gov. Pat Quinn supports the project. Incoming governor Bruce Rauner, the self-proclaimed reformer who just this week issued the news flash that Illinois’ finances are “stunningly bad,” has not offered his thoughts on the Illiana but should drive a stake into it as soon as possible.   “There are better, more financially viable ways to address congestion and transportation planning at I-55 and I-80. And Illinois has more pressing road and bridge problems, many of them long deferred, that require attention and resources.   “Illinoisans already are on the hook for ballooning state pension costs, and the legislature’s attempt to fix the problem was ruled unconstitutional Friday. Why would state lawmakers consider entering such a speculative transportation project now, too? To do so would be short-sighted and irresponsible.   “There’s a reason why the Illiana is called the road to nowhere. It is not a priority, and now is not the time for such an expensive and risky endeavor in Illinois.”  



Illiana Expressway Project on hold; Opponents petition to keep it that way

Feb. 17, 2015 Story



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