A circuit judge on Tuesday rejected an attempt to block the Illinois Toll Highway Authority from hiking its rates by almost double on Jan. 1.
The Chicago Tribune reports that Cook County Judge Rita Novak dismissed a lawsuit, filed in September by James Tobin of the anti-tax group Taxpayers United of America, which claimed the authority had violated the state statute which brought it into existence in the 1950s.
The agency, Tobin argued, should be forced to convert its tollways into freeways and dissolve its operations.
"The language of the Tollway Act is crystal clear. The Legislature never intended the tollway to be a self-perpetuating bond issuing machine that continues ad infinitum," Tobin said, as reported by the Tribune.
Tobin noted that his group will likely appeal the judge's dismissal. They continue to contend that, when the Tollway Act went into effect in 1953, its approval was contingent on the tollways going free within twenty years, CBS Chicago reports. That, of course, has never happened.
In September, the agency voted almost unanimously to approve the almost 88 percent toll hike, which is intended to fund a $12 billion, 15-year road construction project that is being touted for improving and expanding upon highways across the state. I-Pass users will pay almost double their previous toll rate, while drivers paying their tolls with cash will be forced to shell out double what I-Pass users pay.
The new toll rates, marking the agency's first rate hike since 1983, will go into effect on Jan. 1.
WATCH a WTTW "Chicago Tonight" report on the tollway rate increase from earlier this year:
Photo by HelveticaFanatic via Flickr.
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