Well anyone who has read this blog regularly already knows I am no fan of the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority. And the reason is pretty simple - I believe that they have been a repository for patronage and that that means Illinois Taxpayers are not as well-served as they should be. Granted, they are not the only repository but they sure have had more than a fair share of controversies and scandals over the decades.
But rather than rehash those controversies it is important to note that they are still a government entity that relies on the collection of tolls. Now, anyone who feels that the tolls are excessive or high can choose to not use the toll roads to get from here to there. However if one does choose to use those roads - they are obligated to pay those tolls.
Sadly, there are those among us who think that it is perfectly okay to use the Illinois Tollway System and not pay their fair share while those of us who are honest do despite the fact that we may not be happy about it. After all, these tollways weren't supposed to remain Toll Roads in perpetuity. The intent was to build the roads by issuance of bonds and once they were paid off the roads would be converted to freeways.
Well that didn't happen did it?
The state government have allowed the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority to re-issue bonds whenever they feel the need to make repairs, improvements or for the building of new Toll Roads as required. Thus this creates a vicious cycle that is destined to never end the need for the authority. Okay I get it, mostly. Roads degrade over time and they must be repaired to ensure safety.
Now I am sure that some of the contracts over the decades have been "juiced" so preferred contractors are assured work in return for their campaign contributions. That's the slimy part and we all know that it happens and not just with the tollway. Matter of fact, these government contracts are often secured via rigged bidding or no bidding at all - and often times we see them gravitate to the same construction firms.
And I know that that sort of thing angers a lot of people.
But does that give people the right to blow through collection points with zero funds in their I Pass Accounts and accumulate a huge debt? Well I don't think so. As I said before, the use of the Toll Roads is a voluntary exercise and if you object to paying tolls then use the freeways or arterial routes through out the region. It really is as simple as that.
I mean I know - I have done it whenever I don't feel like paying tolls.
That is also why I think that this Illinois Super Scofflaws List Is Shameful. How can these people accumulate that much debt and willfully ignore it? Do they not realize that they are not just stiffing the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority but the taxpayers as well? Hey, those lawsuits and collection efforts aren't free and one way or the other every honest person eventually gets stuck with those costs too.
So I am glad that this Illinois Super Scofflaws List was made public. According to the Chicago Tribune a "roster of 157 companies has amassed unpaid missed tolls and penalties totaling almost $3.7 million, with some violations dating back as long as 10 years" and there is a "trucking company based in the southwest suburbs that owes the Illinois Tollway almost $215,000 in unpaid tolls and fines" to lead the list of "super scofflaws."
Naturally some of those on the list claim that the list is inaccurate and I would almost bet that given some of the horror stories we have heard over the years of misread license plates or computer glitches effecting I Pass Accounts while being unable to get through to a representative. But I am also relatively sure that the majority of those listed on the "super list" know damn well what they have been doing given the reaction of some who spoke publicly after their names were released.
Funny thing though - they weren't concerned enough to erase the debt before the list was made public but now that it has they are worried about how their customers will feel about it. Well they should worry. Especially if their customers are like the majority of us who do pay our public debts regardless of whether we like it or not. And when you consider how the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority have negotiated settlements for far less than what was owed, well what in the world were they thinking when it accumulated into the stratosphere?
To tell you the truth, I was almost expecting that the majority of scofflaws were "out-of-stater's" but there are relatively few of those among the 157 companies listed. It should be noted too that some of those 157 were listed more than once so what's up with that?
As for us honest folks, well all I can say is that from time to time one should check their I Pass Account and make sure that the credit card you may be using to replenish it hasn't expired as well as complying with the Transponder Replacement Program letter that has begun appearing in our mailboxes to replace our "older technology" units.
It is incredibly easy too as all you have to do is go to your local Jewel Food Store for a replacement. Bear in mind, though, it may take up to a day for the account to updated - so make sure you check that it has before zipping through an I Pass Lane!
Oh yeah - you know that those Blue Lights mounted in those I Pass Lanes where there is no attendant or at access ramps at the various Interstate Junctions? Well they will "BLINK" to notify you that your toll has been accepted and deducted from your account.
As always you have a choice when it comes to the Illinois Tollway -
but if you use it you are obligated to pay!
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Tags: Freeways, Government Fees, Headline News, I Pass, I Pass Account, I Pass Transponder Replacement Program, I Pass Transponders, Illinois State Toll Highway Authority, Illinois Super Scofflaws List, Illinois Super Scofflaws List Is Shameful, Illinois Taxpayers, Illinois Tollway, Illinois Tollway System, News and Opinion, Op Ed, Open Road Tolling, Patronage, Politics, Taxation, Taxes, Tollways, Transponder Replacement Program