Via The Chicago Tribune’s Jon Hilkevitch and the Illinois Tollway Authority: The Illinois Tollway Authority’s website offers a new feature that will allow motorists an easier way to dispute tollroad violations they feel are incorrect.
Currently, customers who drive through toll plazas without paying cash, using active transponders or using up-to-date I-PASS and E-ZPass accounts have their license plates photographed as part of the Tollway’s violation enforcement system.
If a customer receives three violations within a two-year period, a notice is generated that includes one of the captured images so that the customer can see that his or her vehicle was photographed passing through an electronic tolling lane without paying the toll.
It’s part of the toll authority’s ongoing efforts to repair its public image after serious missteps that included the failure to send out any toll violation notices over a 13-month period ending in 2007 during a change in contractors. Hundreds of thousands of drivers eventually received steep fines for violations that allegedly occurred at least a year earlier.
The episode fueled criticism that the agency is heavy-handed and excessively punitive. In some cases, the agency issued thousands of dollars in fines as it sought repayment for missed tolls that totaled far less money.
A similar problem developed in May 2008, when the tollway and its contractor turned off the system for issuing violation notices to Indiana motorists to fix a system glitch — and then failed to turn the system back on. About 116,000 Hoosiers were subsequently slapped with an estimated $7 million in unpaid tolls and fines because of the two-year lapse in issuing violation notices. The mistake was not caught until June 2010.
The toll authority later waived some of the fines.
The Illinois Tollway is a user-fee system that receives no state or federal funds for maintenance and operations. The agency maintains and operates 286 miles of interstate tollways in 12 counties in Northern Illinois, including the Reagan Memorial Tollway (I-88), the Veterans Memorial Tollway (I-355), the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway (I-90) and the Tri-State Tollway (I-94/I-294/I-80).