Study Proposes HOT Lanes for Chicago

The Metropolitan Planning Council of Chicago and the Illinois Tollway Authority have released a report by Wilbur Smith and Associates that recommends expanding parts of the Stevenson, Kennedy, and Jane Addams expressways through high-occupancy tollroads. The study is part of a multi-year effort to gauge the feasibility of implementing congestion pricing–tolling based on time of day and congestion levels–on Chicago’s most heavily traveled routes.

The results of the added capacity and priced lanes (on the new capacity) would have significant travel times savings. Along segments of the Stevenson expressway, for example, travel times could drop from 23 minutes (in year 2020 with no additional building) to 6 minutes (in the priced lanes) along a 5.7 mile stretch from Cicero Avenue to I-90/94. One 12 mile segment along the existing Jane Addams tollway would see travel times drop from 59 minutes (estimated in 2020) to 12 minutes in the new priced lane.

Needless to say, opposition will be stiff. Trucking organizations have already weighed in against the proposal. According to Land Line magazine, Don Schaefer of the Mid-West Truckers Association thinks new toll lanes won’t improve traffic:

“Adding a toll doesn’t improve traffic flow,” he said. “It’s not going to keep people off the roads. … You’re just coming after people who have to drive.”

Truckers surveyed as part of the study said driver schedules are dictated by delivery times, and that leaves them no choice but to get caught in the congestion.

“There’s no place to pull off and park, and that’s part of the problem,” said Schaefer, who has a seat on the Illinois Tollway Transition Team.

For additional coverage from the Chicago Tribune, see the article here. A quick summary of the proposal and results can be found here.