Illinois Super Scofflaws List Is Shameful

Illinois Super Scofflaws List Is Shameful

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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Comments

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  • The only real question is whether one can believe the Tribune stories where those contacted said that they had connected their credit card to their IPass account and the authority wouldn't resolve their customer complaints. There was a similar mess with Ventra, but at least CTA admitted there was a problem and was dealing with it.

    Other than that, the Tribune indicated that only commercial users will be put on the Internet list, so one can make the assumption that if the scofflaws are not clearing this up, it was an intentional business decision to use whatever benefits the tollway provides their business without paying for them. Not much different than the sales tax evaders we previously discussed. Also, since they are commercial users, the Jewel point is irrelevant.

    As far as the roads will ever be free, that 1960s promise is out the window. You either have the Chicago Skyway and Indiana Toll Road leased to private interests, or you just do what the Illinois Tollway did and almost double the tolls (almost quadruple tolls without an IPass) and just bond it out. Most of the money goes into expansion rather than maintenance. I'm still not sure how the Tollway Authority gets to convert the existing Elgin-O'Hare Expressway into a tollway so as to extend it to O'Hare, or how it is supposed to work as an electronic only tollway, but that's how the increased tolls are going to be used. Maybe it will be like one of the private tollways near Toronto, where they just take a picture of the license plate and send you a bill if you don't have a transponder, without the onus of it being a violation.

  • In reply to jack:

    I don't doubt that the Tribune did their due diligence on those they were able to contact but the sampling size was probably low. As for exposing the "commercial" folks first well they owe the most it seems and like you said are no different than the other evaders.

    The Jewel point was more about us little guys; I just got the letter and switched out the first of two - just a warning I guess.

    The Tollway did have issues early on with the "loading" of I Pass Accounts" and when it became a problem I thought they acknowledged it while allowing people to resolve and reduce the fine? That was one of the scandals - but they eventually owned up I guess.

    You know I don't like the whole concept of Tollways - but hey - if you use it pay for it. It really is that simple. There is a choice here.

  • In reply to Michael Ciric:

    I wasn't questioning the Tribune's due diligence as opposed to the veracity of the people who responded to the Tribune.

  • In reply to jack:

    I see; yes I kind of got that impression too. I mean I have had an account for quite awhile and know enough to update the account periodically. I don't get people sometimes, but hey one can usually smell a bullshitter a mile away.

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