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#1
Old 07-31-2006, 09:50 PM
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The Illinois "Open Road Tolling" Was An Incredibly Bad Idea

I just returned fom one of the most greuling driving experiences I have ever had. Scratch that-- It was the worst driving experience I have ever had, and I've been driving cross-country since I was a kid.

I have to admit I was deeply impressed. Never have I seen incompetence writ on such a grand scale. It was truly spectacular-- the final stages of an incredibly Bad Idea which manages to ruin an entire state. My husband voiced the opinion that "Open Road Tolling" must have been conceptualized by monkeys, but I disagree. It was the work of the Antichrist.

See, Route 90 is a Northern passage across the United States. Following this single interstate freeway, you can travel across a good portion of our great land. For those Dopers who are not familiar with the American road system, interstate freeways are massive highways, often of three or even four lanes going in either direction. Their appeal is that the speed limit is generally higher, and there's no stopping unless it's for gas.

Some of the states designate their parts of this road as toll ways, meaning that you pay a nominal fee based on the distance you've traveled. You get a ticket when you enter the freeway, and pay the toll at the exit you use. Toll roads are often less crowded, limited access (which means less slow-downs from lane changes and merges) and generally well-maintained.

Some corknut in Illinois desided to fix a system which wasn't broken. They have this new "Open Road Tolling." This means that the toll booths are in the center of the freeway every few miles, meaning freeway traffic has to come to a complete stop and pay the toll.

When you look at the pictures of what it will look like when finished, you see a few cars breezily coasting into the tolling booths. It looks smooth and streamlined, the art has a cosy, vaguely 1950-ish feel. You just know those cars are going to be on their merry way in but a brief flicker of time, off to explore the majestic vistas of our lovely land. Reality is a bit different. Sitting in the sweltering heat at a standstill behind hundreds of other cars waiting their turn to pay the toll, I had a lot of time to look at that picture, and envy the chemical enhancements that must have brought this vision to the mind of its conceptualizer. That must have been one hell of a trip.

The first flaw in this premise is, obviously, the fact that the freeway traffic all has to come to a stop to pay the toll, thus negating one of the major reasons people choose to use the interstate freeways. The I-Pass system seems to have been a half-hearted effort towards alleviating this, but when I inqured about buying one at a travel oasis, I was told that a pass was fifty bucks, cash only. Considering I was only in Illinois as long as it would take me to travel out of Illinois, fifty dollars seemed a bit excessive. I imagine many travellers would feel the same way, and thus, a majority of the road's users are going to have to go through the cash tolls.

But even the I-Pass system didn't help matters, because traffic was packed for miles behind the tollbooths, and they couldn't even get to where the road widened to allow I-Pass users into another lane.

Yes, I said "packed for miles." I do not exaggerate. At seven PM on Sunday night, I crept along, stop-and-start behind a line of cars which wound out of range of sight. I was at that particular toll for 45 minutes. Every toll took at least fifteen minutes. I don't even want to talk about Chicago.

The signs promise that this will all magically vanish once construction is done, to which I have to shake my head in astonishment that anyone ever bought that line. One of the tollbooths at which I sat for twenty minutes was fully operational-- it just couldn't process cars fast enough to avoid a traffic jam. It's uttrerly impossible that they ever could.

When we passed Gary, Indiana, a miraculous change took over. Traffic became smooth again, soaring along with cheerful disregard for the speed limit. I think we were all a bit giddy from the heady sensation of being able to drive after putting along at golf-cart speeds through an entire state.

Yes, I said an entire state. The parts of the road upon which traffc flowed as God intended were so rare as to be forgotten. I remember the entire state being one of steering-wheel pounding, screeching, near-to-tears frustration. It took us twice as long as it should have to get through it.

I felt like casting myself from the car and kissing the earth of Indiana. We passed through one booth, claimed our ticket, and sailed through the state unhindered until we reached our exit, paid the toll and drove away, thanking God that someone who had higher than the brain-power of a retarded yak had designed exit tolling.
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#2
Old 07-31-2006, 10:06 PM
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I feel your pain. I ventured through Chi-town a few weeks before the road construction started and could feel the disturbance in the force. Who in the world created this nonsense called "open road" tolling? If there is anything it _isn't_ is open road. The Indiana system makes complete sense to me. You pay the toll at each end (and at the on/off-ramps in the middle) and you drive. Period.

Hopefully you won't have to go back the same way you came.
#3
Old 07-31-2006, 10:17 PM
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What you are describing is not "Open Road Tolling" so please stop using the term. What you are describing is what the toll system used to be like around Chicago. It's still like that at I-90, because they are still working on the tollway at the I-90, I-294 intersection.

With "Open Road Tolling" you don't have to stop at tollbooths at all. The highway continues on at all lanes, full speed and the toll gets paid through the I-pass Anyone who doesn't have an I-pass has to pretty much exit the highway onto a separate highway to access the toll-booths.

Oh, and if you don't have an I-pass you get to pay twice as much. Sucks to be the person just driving through I guess.
#4
Old 07-31-2006, 10:25 PM
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I drove through on I-90 last week. I hate driving in Chicagoland (beginning at Rockland and ending at Gary). They mug you every few miles and it takes for-freaking-ever.
#5
Old 07-31-2006, 10:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruby
Hopefully you won't have to go back the same way you came.
I did.

It wasn't as bad on the way there. It was just a huge pain in the ass on the way there. On the way back, during the weekend, it was agonizing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Folly
What you are describing is not "Open Road Tolling" so please stop using the term.
That's what all the signs along the way called it, so I'm going with that terminology.

Quote:
With "Open Road Tolling" you don't have to stop at tollbooths at all. The highway continues on at all lanes, full speed and the toll gets paid through the I-pass Anyone who doesn't have an I-pass has to pretty much exit the highway onto a separate highway to access the toll-booths.

Oh, and if you don't have an I-pass you get to pay twice as much. Sucks to be the person just driving through I guess.
"Just driving through" describes most of the travellers. Most of the license plates around me were from out-of-state. Yeah, the locals will get a break, but not what seems like the majority of users.

If they did the I-Pass the way I've heard some states have done it (i.e your tolls are automatically charged to a credit card after you sign up) it might reduce the problem. I was willing to do that, but when I discovered it was a flat fee that exceeded by several times what I would pay manually, I didn't buy one. Added, of course, to the fact that the I-Pass users were crammed in behind the rest of us. That of course, may change once they get it done, but I'm not really betting on it. I imagine those "seperate highways" could get clogged pretty fast, leading to the kind of gridlock I experienced if they back up into the traffic lanes.
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#6
Old 07-31-2006, 10:55 PM
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I have to admit, Lissa, based on my experience driving through one of the open road toll plazas while it was under construction, I was in the same place you are...and I had to do it every day. It was agonizing. I cursed the toll authority every single day.

But, when my toll plaza was done, the difference was...amazing. Traffic literally does not slow down, unless it is backed up anyway. Many days, I drive through at my normal highway speed...never even tap the brakes. The non-I-pass people do have to go through a regular toll booth, but it is never more than maybe 10 cars deep.

For some reason, you do have to pay $50 to get an I-Pass (which you can get online with a credit card...can't speak for buying it in person.) $10 of it is a deposit on the transponder, and the rest is all toll credit. Subsequent tolls can be charged automatically to your credit card (this is what I do). You can return it at any time and get a full refund for both the deposit and the unused tolls. It sucks that the person you talked to obviously did not explain this to you.
#7
Old 07-31-2006, 10:57 PM
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I should have included this cite from the Illinois Tollway Authority's website.

Usually, I am pretty much the biggest critic around of anything the local government here does, but I have to admit that the Tollway Authority won me over with this one.
#8
Old 07-31-2006, 10:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GingerOfTheNorth
I drove through on I-90 last week. I hate driving in Chicagoland (beginning at Rockland and ending at Gary). They mug you every few miles and it takes for-freaking-ever.
I'll second this one. I did mine late last week, and had two extra axles to pay for!

But hey, it's been going on for years already! Just look at the New Jersey Turnpike and the Garden State Parkway. The former is the "ticket at th' entrance, pay at the end", while the latter has "Toll Plazas" in every county. I'm used to it. Just not used to the crappy roads Illinois has. . .

Tripler
Toll roads. Sheesh.
#9
Old 07-31-2006, 10:59 PM
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I'm sorry for your frustrating driving experience.

I've had my share around this area as well. Especially, a lovely 6 hour nightmare of a drive I experienced a few thanksgivings ago during a blizzard where I was stuck in the leftmost lane and could not get off the damn highway.

Trust me when I say that what they're working towards is a lot better than the way it used to be where everybody and their dog had to stop at the toll boths every few miles.
#10
Old 07-31-2006, 11:05 PM
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Right, the signs were there telling you that "Open Road Tolling" is Coming Soon . It ain't here yet (well, at 4 plazas, but that's hardly a spit in the bucket.) Yes, it's creating crazy havoc during the construction. Added to the Open Road Tolling Construction is the Dan Ryan reconstruction, where I-90 and I-94 are the same road for almost the entire length of the south side of Chicago, and which you were also undoubtedly stuck in. Feel for me: I live on the North Side, and my baby's grandmothers live in the South Suburbs. There is NO good way to get around the construction nightmares.

The frequent tollbooth system sucks. The I-Pass, for reasons you've already articulated, sucks. I see no reason to believe Open Road Tolling won't suck. But let's wait 'till it's really running before we complain about how much it sucks.
#11
Old 07-31-2006, 11:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Folly
With "Open Road Tolling" you don't have to stop at tollbooths at all. The highway continues on at all lanes, full speed and the toll gets paid through the I-pass Anyone who doesn't have an I-pass has to pretty much exit the highway onto a separate highway to access the toll-booths.

Oh, and if you don't have an I-pass you get to pay twice as much. Sucks to be the person just driving through I guess.
Wow. Way to kill off interstate tourism.
#12
Old 07-31-2006, 11:34 PM
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Ah, this whole thread reminds me of why I refuse to drive on ANY toll road and believe that allowing INTERSTATES to become toll roads should be a capital offense. I drove on the PA Turnpike once and hated the way the road was constructed. I don't think I'd drive on it for free, much less pay for the "privilege." It's an Interstate damn it, paid for partially by federal taxes. Either make up the rest of road costs with state taxes or stop taking the fed money, but don't go charging tolls. If you want to charge a toll, go build your own damn road.
#13
Old 08-01-2006, 12:23 AM
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And yet, everyone in my family is stunned that I utterly refuse to drive on the tollway.
#14
Old 08-01-2006, 12:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lissa
I felt like casting myself from the car and kissing the earth of Indiana.
Wow. All the times I've crossed into Indiana, I have never felt that way. Musta been some terrible trip.
#15
Old 08-01-2006, 01:38 AM
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I feel your pain. Last week, I had a job interview in Indiana. I flew into Midway and took a bus to Hammond. I thought Cicero Avenue was bad, but the traffic didn't get any better once we got on the tollway. Not to mention there's that section where there are quarries on either side of the highway - a little disconcerting when you're in a tall bus.

Here's what I don't understand - this "open road tolling" will still require an electronic tag, if I understand correctly. Since they're spending all this money to upgrade it, why not just make it like the 407 around Toronto, which lets you cruise through at full speed and sends a bill in the mail? That way there'd be no backups at the toll booths.
#16
Old 08-01-2006, 02:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SanibelMan
Here's what I don't understand - this "open road tolling" will still require an electronic tag, if I understand correctly. Since they're spending all this money to upgrade it, why not just make it like the 407around Toronto, which lets you cruise through at full speed and sends a bill in the mail? That way there'd be no backups at the toll booths.

Because the 407 corparation cannot compel you to pay the bill, if your from out of province, and the amount that you would have to pay for traveling from oakville to pickering, is not enough to sic the collection agencies on you.

Declan
#17
Old 08-01-2006, 06:49 AM
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I agree, that's not the Open Road Tolling, that's the advertising that it's coming soon. I've used a couple of the working Open Road Tolling points and it's been fine, you can roll right through. (This of course assumes that there's nothing else going on that'll hold up traffic, like an accident.)

Miller: As for killing off tourism, I know Wisconsin doesn't have tolls (not sure about the other surrounding states), so tourists have bitched ever since the tolls started here that they have to pay tolls at all. It's not so much the amount as their very existence. They still keep coming, though.
#18
Old 08-01-2006, 07:16 AM
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I hate toll roads, if they want money that bad then just raise the gas taxes. How much gas is wasted just sitting at these places? The funny thing is that half the roads that have these tolls are crap. If they are going to charge for the roads why not do what the Europeans are doing and make you buy a sticker every year? I know the Swiss have done this and they have in Hungry as well.
#19
Old 08-01-2006, 08:20 AM
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Quote:
Lissa said:
When you look at the pictures of what it will look like when finished, you see a few cars breezily coasting into the tolling booths. It looks smooth and streamlined, the art has a cosy, vaguely 1950-ish feel. You just know those cars are going to be on their merry way in but a brief flicker of time, off to explore the majestic vistas of our lovely land. Reality is a bit different. Sitting in the sweltering heat at a standstill behind hundreds of other cars waiting their turn to pay the toll, I had a lot of time to look at that picture, and envy the chemical enhancements that must have brought this vision to the mind of its conceptualizer. That must have been one hell of a trip.
And this is an outright lie, this 'breezily coasting into the tolling booths.'

When I returned from my last trip to Toronto, I had to sit in mostly-stop, tiny-bit-of-go traffic for three fucking hours on I-90 coming from NY into PA because the backup to the toll booths was so horrendous. Thankfully I anticipated just such problems (as well as the hour and a half line at the border to get through security) and made sure my AC worked and my gas tank was full. Also made sure that I had eaten and peed before getting into that mess.

Ambulances were driving up the median to treat the people who had heat stroke from sitting in their non-AC cars, and tow trucks came bearing gasoline for those who ran out of gas and would have to buy some, as well as pulling off the road all the overheated cars. For a while there, it was a 'get to know your neighbors' kind of mingling experience. No accident, just ten miles of jam-packed stationary backup before the toll booths.

Quote:
asterion said:
I drove on the PA Turnpike once and hated the way the road was constructed.
It is pretty fucking bad. I wish there was another route that could get me from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia in under eight hours. When I drive to NYC, I go up US22, to I-99, to US220, to I-80. It adds about 45 minutes to the trip, and a lot of it is low speed limit two lane road (through Port Matilda up to State College), but it is well worth not going on the T-pike. My trip to Point Pleasant, NJ just cost me $35.50 in tolls there and back. That's $16.75 each way on the PA Turnpike and $1.00 each way on the NJ Turnpike. Add in the 80$ in gas that I spent round trip, and the wear and tear on my car and it would've been cheaper to take one of the discount airlines $49/way + tax and fees to Philadelphia and get picked up at the airport.

The PA Turnpike itself is in horrid condition, the road is too narrow and there are some places like the 3 mile hill with curves that are reduced speed because of the poor road design, and there are accidents and construction constantly. That road is a travesty. I avoid it whenever I can.

(I hope that was not too much vitriol for MPSIMS)
#20
Old 08-01-2006, 09:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ferret Herder
I agree, that's not the Open Road Tolling, that's the advertising that it's coming soon. I've used a couple of the working Open Road Tolling points and it's been fine, you can roll right through. (This of course assumes that there's nothing else going on that'll hold up traffic, like an accident.)
FWIW, it's touch and go with the Open Road tolling, even. I used to commute up 355 and there is an open road toll at Army Trail Road. Especially in the morning, it was usually faster to get off, go to the ipass lane in the toll booth and re-merge onto the highway than take the open road toll. This is primarily due to a number of different roads merging onto 355 within a couple miles of the toll. However, I always knew when coming into the open road toll to either hit the far right lane (which splits into the toll booth so it opens up) or to just go into the toll booth.

Oh, and nitpicky, but the OP uses the word "Freeway" and then talks about tolls. These are Tollways - if they were Freeways, they wouldn't have tolls. If they have tolls, then they're not Freeways.
#21
Old 08-01-2006, 09:13 AM
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I agree with Edward the Head that tolls are a really bad idea in their very concept, and I'll go one further with a wee bit of paranoia:

I think toll booths are potential terrorism targets.

All you'd need is a semi, and the ability to skid it sideways at high speed into a crowded tollbooth. Maybe pack it with some sort of explosive. Heck of a lot easier than hijacking an airplane, no?
#22
Old 08-01-2006, 09:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mach Tuck
I agree with Edward the Head that tolls are a really bad idea in their very concept, and I'll go one further with a wee bit of paranoia:

I think toll booths are potential terrorism targets.

All you'd need is a semi, and the ability to skid it sideways at high speed into a crowded tollbooth. Maybe pack it with some sort of explosive. Heck of a lot easier than hijacking an airplane, no?
Mach, I can see your point, however, as a terrorist target, what purpose would it serve? Know what I mean? Closing the highway? Heck, we practically do that at rush hour. It wouldn't take out a whole lot of people - it's not THAT crowded - there wouldn't be anywhere NEAR 1,000 casualties - what would the reason be for hitting a tollbooth? Know what I mean? I'm curious as to why you'd think this would be a serious target.
#23
Old 08-01-2006, 09:31 AM
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Hah! Try driving the New Jersey Parkway sometime. It's had toll booths regularly spaced for years. To save time and money you bought rolls of tokens at 30 for $10 (cheaper than the 35 cents per toll otherwise). I had to go through four such booths going to my parents. Or six of them going to my in-laws.

They seem to be doing away with them. They've installed Easy-Pass booths at some, and eliminated others entirely. I thought the GSP was the last holdout of this method of tolling, but I see I'm wrong. I'm surprised someone's trying to introduce this nowadays.
#24
Old 08-01-2006, 09:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by catsix
When I drive to NYC, I go up US22, to I-99, to US220, to I-80. It adds about 45 minutes to the trip, and a lot of it is low speed limit two lane road (through Port Matilda up to State College), but it is well worth not going on the T-pike.
US22 I know (though probably not that stretch, as my way of getting into State College used PA-26). When I used to go to school in PA and was headed back towards the DC area (actually closer to Annapolis) I'd take US-22 to US-522 to US-30 to I-81 to I-70 (and then some other highways in Maryland). I don't know if it was any shorter than taking I-76 to I-83 (can you even get off at I-83?) but I'm sure it was faster, what with avoiding toll booths and Harrisburg and Baltimore and all and, even better, it was free. The only really bad parts were climbing that hill on 522 (did it in a fog once, that was scary), the construction of the US-30 I-81 interchange in Chambersburg, and the very badly designed I-81 I-70 interchange (but maybe I'm biased there having dealt with the new I-25 I-40 interchange.) Similarly, when I was taking a trip to Hershey it was US-22 pretty much all the way or with the trip to Lancaster (at least until I got to Harrisburg, then it was some state highway after that.)
#25
Old 08-01-2006, 09:50 AM
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Pretty boneheaded rant, to criticize "open road tolling" when what you really encountered was major road construction. Hell, they're doing blasting on 294 down near 80, during which they completely stop traffic in both directions for up to 1/2 hour every couple of hours.

Also, to pick a nit, I believe the road you are complaining about was 294 - the Tri-State, not 90. 90 would have taken you from the skyway (toll, not I-Pass) to the Dan Ryan (free, but under MAJOR construction) out the Kennedy (also free) before you rejoined the tollway up towards Rockford and Beloit.

Sorry, but as a tourist you are simply unqualified to bitch about road construction/traffic in and around Chi. You really must give due credit to 80/94 in Indiana, a non-toll road which is PERENNIALLY under construction. And if you wanted to avoid the toll hassles, you could have taken a nice leisurely spin up the Dan Ryan! (Ha ha!)

I am firmly convinced that I-Pass is one of the greatest inventions of recent times. (Also, the I-Pass $50 charge is a refundable deposit, tho I would agree it would hardly make sense for someone passing through.) As I understand it, the various "automated" toll systems for the various states will soon be reciprocal. As an I-Pass user traveling to the east coast, I was frustrated that I could not use the automated lanes in Penn, NY, etc.

And this long-time toll road user has NEVER seen a toll abomination anywhere near the equal of the Mass/NH border on 95.
#26
Old 08-01-2006, 09:54 AM
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The people at IDot (and I know I'm not the only person who always reads it as "idiot") came up with an incredibly bad idea? I'm shocked!
#27
Old 08-01-2006, 10:01 AM
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all this makes me very happy that CT removed the tolls from I95 ...

of course, they only did it after a number of very bad accidents involving tractor trailers.
#28
Old 08-01-2006, 10:03 AM
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Open Road Tolling works well on the Greeneway in Orlando -- sometimes the traffic gets down to 55 or so in a 65 mph zone for a couple miles or so before the toll reader but I've never seen the non-e-pass lanes back up all the way into the main road. Maybe this is because the Greeneway is more of a city beltway and so will have a bigger % of e-pass holders, but Orlando's always gonna have some tourist traffic.
#29
Old 08-01-2006, 10:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dinsdale
... As an I-Pass user traveling to the east coast, I was frustrated that I could not use the automated lanes in Penn, NY, etc.
Really? This would so make me get an I-Pass finally. I pay less than $10 a year in Illinois tolls, simply because I don't drive on Illinois toll roads - they don't go where I want to. But I drive all the way through Indiana and Ohio quite a bit. If I could use just one electronic toll leash, I'd do it.
#30
Old 08-01-2006, 10:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Missy2U
Mach, I can see your point, however, as a terrorist target, what purpose would it serve? Know what I mean? Closing the highway? Heck, we practically do that at rush hour. It wouldn't take out a whole lot of people - it's not THAT crowded - there wouldn't be anywhere NEAR 1,000 casualties - what would the reason be for hitting a tollbooth? Know what I mean? I'm curious as to why you'd think this would be a serious target.
The point of terrorism is to terrorize people, to make them afraid of doing the things they would otherwise do without a second thought about their safety.

If a terrorist slammed a semi full of explosives into the backup behind the Delaware Turnpike tollbooths, killing a hundred or so persons in cars close enough to the blast, it would have exactly that effect: a lot of people would suddenly be afraid to drive the toll highways of the Northeast Corridor.
#31
Old 08-01-2006, 10:24 AM
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This is the first I've heard of "open road tolling" but I'll use this to grouse about the Delaware Turnpike's inability to open enough tollbooths to handle their summer weekend traffic without a 3-5 mile backup on Sunday afternoons.

I don't terribly mind their using their 15-mile chokepoint on Northeast Corridor traffic as a big state moneymaker, but it does gall me to have to wait 20 minutes or more in the backup before I can even get to where the EZ-Pass lane is moving any faster than the rest of the backup.
#32
Old 08-01-2006, 10:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Folly
Trust me when I say that what they're working towards is a lot better than the way it used to be where everybody and their dog had to stop at the toll boths every few miles.
B.S. I was on this highway two weeks ago. I went through some toll booths that already had the system set up--the IPass users were about 30% of the traffic on the road. The other 70% were stuck in the 15-minute standstill nightmares the OP described--and then we all had to merge back onto the road. Criminy.

What I saw as being the problem is that they have gotten rid of the automatic coin-counters in favor of real people, who have to stop to count the change. Back when you could just throw your coins in the basket, the toll plazas were... well, they weren't okay, but it wasn't a nightmare the way it is now.

And I always feel like kissing the ground in Indiana, when I've been out of it. So there.
#33
Old 08-01-2006, 10:42 AM
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Thanks, RT. That makes sense.
#34
Old 08-01-2006, 10:46 AM
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I really like open road tolling, in the places where it has been fully implemented. Then again, I have an I-Pass to make it much, much easier. Like any major reconstruction though, it's a bitch and a half until it's completed.

Also, it's completely untrue that the majority of toll road users in Illinois are tourists. I recall some study (don't remember where) that Chicago folks had the longest or second longest commute in the country, in terms of mileage. But Chicago drivers generally know enough not to use the tollways on the weekends.
#35
Old 08-01-2006, 10:50 AM
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Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: Pinellobamas Park, FL
Posts: 2,488
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ludovic
Open Road Tolling works well on the Greeneway in Orlando -- sometimes the traffic gets down to 55 or so in a 65 mph zone for a couple miles or so before the toll reader but I've never seen the non-e-pass lanes back up all the way into the main road. Maybe this is because the Greeneway is more of a city beltway and so will have a bigger % of e-pass holders, but Orlando's always gonna have some tourist traffic.
I was just gonna say something like this. The Florida toll roads that have open road tolling that I'm familiar with all seem to work well -- this includes SR 589, the Suncoast Parkway; SR 417, the aforementioned Greeneway; and SR 869, the Sawgrass Expressway. I love the things cause I don't even have to slow down.
#36
Old 08-01-2006, 10:52 AM
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Join Date: Mar 1999
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dinsdale
Pretty boneheaded rant, to criticize "open road tolling" when what you really encountered was major road construction. Hell, they're doing blasting on 294 down near 80, during which they completely stop traffic in both directions for up to 1/2 hour every couple of hours.

Also, to pick a nit, I believe the road you are complaining about was 294 - the Tri-State, not 90. 90 would have taken you from the skyway (toll, not I-Pass) to the Dan Ryan (free, but under MAJOR construction) out the Kennedy (also free) before you rejoined the tollway up towards Rockford and Beloit.
I'll admit that my memory may have been obscured by a fog of rage, but while the area around Chicago was the worst, the whole state seemed to be this way. We were driving through Illinois from Wisconsin, and all the way along the toll road it was stop-and-go. The entire trip through the state took us much longer than it should have. Traffic was backed up for miles before each toll plaza.

It was enough to make me vow that even if it takes me 500 miles out of my way, I'll never drive through Illinois again. I'll go around the damn thing.

Quote:
Sorry, but as a tourist you are simply unqualified to bitch about road construction/traffic in and around Chi. You really must give due credit to 80/94 in Indiana, a non-toll road which is PERENNIALLY under construction. And if you wanted to avoid the toll hassles, you could have taken a nice leisurely spin up the Dan Ryan! (Ha ha!)
I actually did take the Dan Ryan and the JFK freeway. I'm in the process of blocking it from my memory. At points, I remember thinking we should just find a spot to abandon the car and walk because it would have been much faster.

Is the whole damn country under construction right now? It seemed like every state was undergoing a major re-construction of their interstate system. Most of the time, it wasn't much of a bother (as long as you don't mind threading-the-needle between concrete barriers) but in conjunction with those tollbooths, it was a nightmare.

As I said before, I've taken long car trips cross-country since I was a kid. This was the worst driving experience I've ever had. Tourist or not, I'm gonna bitch.

Quote:
I am firmly convinced that I-Pass is one of the greatest inventions of recent times. (Also, the I-Pass $50 charge is a refundable deposit, tho I would agree it would hardly make sense for someone passing through.)
I wish the guy at the travel plaza would have explained it to me. Instead, he made it sound like it was just a flat fee. It wouldn't have saved us that much time, though, because the I-Pass users were stuck in traffic with the rest of us until they could creep up to the I-Pass lanes.
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#37
Old 08-01-2006, 10:52 AM
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Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Posts: 1,388
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dinsdale
<snip>Sorry, but as a tourist you are simply unqualified to bitch about road construction/traffic in and around Chi.<snip>
Ha. What a silly assertion.

I stopped going to Chicago years ago. Poorly maintained roads that you have to pay tolls on, a sprawl so bad it's merging with Milwaukee, etc. It takes forever to get anywhere in Chicagoland. If you visit friends in the burbs and want to do something in the city, count on absurd transit times.

Maybe you think that as a tourist I'm unqualified to bitch, but getting around that area is such a hassle that I simply stopped going, despite the fact that I had friends there for years and that I love the blues clubs there.
#38
Old 08-01-2006, 10:54 AM
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Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: Pinellobamas Park, FL
Posts: 2,488
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sattua
And I always feel like kissing the ground in Indiana, when I've been out of it. So there.
I shoulda stuck a little or maybe in there. Don't get me wrong -- Indiana is the ancestral homeland of my people, and I was born there, but I didn't grow up there. The trips I've taken to Indiana were all enforced-togetherness-family-vacations that I hated, so Indiana is associated with that in my mind.

If you want, you can make all sorts of fun of Florida. Lord knows I do.
#39
Old 08-01-2006, 11:01 AM
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Posts: 10,581
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bambi Hassenpfeffer
If you want, you can make all sorts of fun of Florida. Lord knows I do.
What?? Florida in the summer? No thanks-- it's as hot as Hell, humid, and ya'll have got mosquitos the size of hummingbirds.

Not that where I am is much better right now.
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#40
Old 08-01-2006, 11:04 AM
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Join Date: May 2000
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mrklutz
Ha. What a silly assertion.

Maybe you think that as a tourist I'm unqualified to bitch ...
Please note that at no point did I deny that traffic unambiguously sucks in and around Chicago. Just observing that someone passing through on occasion lacks a clear understanding of exactly how bad it truly is!

I perversely appreciate it when traffic is congested due to construction, compared to the all-too-frequent occasions on which it is snarled for no apparent reason whatsoever.
#41
Old 08-01-2006, 11:08 AM
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Location: Chicago
Posts: 834
I really do understand where all the complaints are coming from. I changed jobs so I would no longer have to commute an hour and a half. I live in the city so I don't have to drive to the city.

That said, I don't get these vows to never go to Chicago or Illinois again. It seems like that would be a better arrangement for all parties yet it's being tossed around like some kind of threat. Am I misunderstanding?

I kind of liken it to the winters here; if you can't deal with it, it's your loss. Chicago is a magnificent city with some serious problems, just like every other city. If driving is your big beef, then by all means stay away. Just one less driver on the road.
#42
Old 08-01-2006, 11:09 AM
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Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Posts: 1,388
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dinsdale
Please note that at no point did I deny that traffic unambiguously sucks in and around Chicago. Just observing that someone passing through on occasion lacks a clear understanding of exactly how bad it truly is!

I perversely appreciate it when traffic is congested due to construction, compared to the all-too-frequent occasions on which it is snarled for no apparent reason whatsoever.
Ah! So I'm unqualified to bitch thoroughly and properly, as a native would. That I will gladly grant you. You have (thank Og) far more experience than I with the nuances of Chicagoland traffic hell.
#43
Old 08-01-2006, 11:15 AM
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Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Sweet Home Chicago
Posts: 33,496
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lissa
I'll admit that my memory may have been obscured by a fog of rage, but while the area around Chicago was the worst, the whole state seemed to be this way. We were driving through Illinois from Wisconsin, and all the way along the toll road it was stop-and-go. The entire trip through the state took us much longer than it should have. Traffic was backed up for miles before each toll plaza.
...
Wait, this just doesn't make sense. How far west did you start? Most people coming or going into Wisconsin do it either by I-94 or I-294, both of which are by Bristol (yes, I'm a Rennie). Both of those just swoop around and take you around Chicago, then spit you out east at Indiana. Hardly "the whole state". The north end of Chicago is 50 miles away from the Wisconsin border. There's a whole bunch more to the state south of us!

Really, it's like driving around the outskirts of London and saying you went through "the whole of England"!
#44
Old 08-01-2006, 11:35 AM
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Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: Minneapolis, MN
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alma
...That said, I don't get these vows to never go to Chicago or Illinois again. It seems like that would be a better arrangement for all parties yet it's being tossed around like some kind of threat. Am I misunderstanding?
Oh, I don't mean it as a threat. I threw it out more as a gauge of just how much I hate the traffic there. Just griping, that's all.
#45
Old 08-01-2006, 11:36 AM
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Join Date: Mar 1999
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WhyNot
Wait, this just doesn't make sense. How far west did you start? Most people coming or going into Wisconsin do it either by I-94 or I-294, both of which are by Bristol (yes, I'm a Rennie). Both of those just swoop around and take you around Chicago, then spit you out east at Indiana. Hardly "the whole state". The north end of Chicago is 50 miles away from the Wisconsin border. There's a whole bunch more to the state south of us!

Really, it's like driving around the outskirts of London and saying you went through "the whole of England"!
I see what you're saying, and I apologize for being overly-dramatic. Tends to happen when I get irked.

It was 94, I think, that we took from Wisconsin to Chicago, then 90 the rest of the way. I'm not the navigator (thank God), so I'm a bit fuzzy on the exact route numbers. On the return trip, I left from Bloomington, MN, drove through Wisconsin into Illinois.
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#46
Old 08-01-2006, 11:56 AM
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Again, seconding the whole, "what you experienced doesn't sound like Open Road Tolling" thing. I drive on a particular stretch of I-90 (Rockford to Elgin) every weekday. Open road tolling reduced the number of tollbooths that I encounter each way (from two on the highway and one at the exit to one on the highway and one at the exit). Also, now that it's operational, I don't have to slow down and creeeep through the IPass lane; I can breeze through at a nice 45 mph.

Now, when it was under construction. . .yeah, it really, really stank. Grr.
#47
Old 08-01-2006, 12:05 PM
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Join Date: May 2000
Location: Lincoln, IL
Posts: 24,098
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lissa
Yes, I said an entire state. The parts of the road upon which traffc flowed as God intended were so rare as to be forgotten. I remember the entire state being one of steering-wheel pounding, screeching, near-to-tears frustration. It took us twice as long as it should have to get through it.
Chicagoland isn't the entire state; it just thinks it is.

As long as you stay out of northern Illinois, you can drive around the whole rest of the state and never have to pay a toll.
#48
Old 08-01-2006, 12:22 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: Pinellobamas Park, FL
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lissa
What?? Florida in the summer? No thanks-- it's as hot as Hell, humid, and ya'll have got mosquitos the size of hummingbirds.

Not that where I am is much better right now.
When I woke up at 10, it was 85, and currently, it's 88 with 66% humidity, heat index of 98. This afternoon, it'll sneak up to 92 with an index of 101 or so... Overnight, it'll be 79. You see, this is how it is every day from late April until mid September / early October.

But it's a wet heat, so it's not so bad . And we reap the benefits of our struggle in the "winter", when it's a rare day that gets down to 40, and the low-70s are our normal high.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Angel of the Lord
Also, now that it's operational, I don't have to slow down and creeeep through the IPass lane; I can breeze through at a nice 45 mph.
I laugh at your slowness. Our open road toll facilities make us drop our speeds to 60, because we don't have time for this 45 mph nonsense.
#49
Old 08-01-2006, 12:24 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Close to home
Posts: 9,749
Quote:
Originally Posted by WhyNot
Really, it's like driving around the outskirts of London and saying you went through "the whole of England"!
Except England would have great landscape... ancient architecture... cute accents... and cream teas.
#50
Old 08-01-2006, 12:28 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Sweet Home Chicago
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sattua
Except England would have great landscape... ancient architecture... cute accents... and cream teas.
Huh?

Which of us was just whooshed?
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