It's going to cost Kane County and Algonquin residents to use the Longmeadow Parkway toll bridge when it opens in 2022. It just won't cost as much as it will for other people – unless you're a truck driver.
The Kane County Board's transportation committee issued preliminary approval to place a toll of 95 cents for most vehicles crossing the bridge over the Fox River. Kane County Division of Transportation officials also unveiled a plan for the residents of Kane County and Algonquin that will give them unlimited access to the toll bridge for $200 a year.
The discount is in recognition of an overall goal to pay off the $28 million borrowed to help build the bridge with money from outside the county.
KDOT officials said the $200 cost pays for itself for any resident who uses the toll bridge round-trip twice a week for the year. Commuters who use the bridge five days per week for work would see that $200 cost average out to about 38 cents per crossing, officials said.
If you live outside Kane County or Algonquin and plan to be a regular user of the toll bridge, KDOT will offer a $300 annual pass.
Drivers of large commercial trucks, on the other hand, won't receive a discount. In what KDOT officials described as an effort to discourage large truck traffic on the parkway, the proposed toll for such vehicles is $7 with an I-PASS and $8.50 without one.
Those tolls fall close to the median compared to what commercial truck drivers pay on other tollways. The DeKalb toll plaza on the Reagan Memorial Tollway now charges truck drivers $16.15. The Marengo-Hampshire toll plaza on Interstate 90 costs $13.60 for truck drivers. On the low side, truck drivers pay $2.55 to exit the Tri-State Tollway at Halsted Street.
Noisy truck traffic and the toll are two of the reasons thousands of residents near the new Longmeadow Parkway opposed the project. Recent nonbinding referendums documented that opposition. Board member Chris Kious represented those sentiments in three failed resolutions on Tuesday.
The first resolution attempted to eliminate the parkway toll. It received the support only of County Board member Jarett Sanchez.
The second resolution attempted to place tolls on all other county-controlled roadways. Kious said the resolution was an effort to have all county residents experience the same burdens his constituents will feel when using Longmeadow. It also failed.
Kious' final resolution suggested naming the toll bridge after County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen. Kious blames Lauzen for the project moving forward.
The Longmeadow Parkway is more than 30 years in the making, far preceding Lauzen's term of office. Though Lauzen backed away from a binding countywide referendum proposal, he is an outspoken critic of using a toll to pay for the bridge. He chastised Democrats on the board last summer for not bringing in more state funds to eliminate the toll. Republicans on the committee rose to Lauzen's defense on Tuesday.
"He's the one who pushed all of us to work on these solutions to reduce the toll," said transportation committee Chairman Drew Frasz.
"It's not his fault," echoed fellow Republican Mike Kenyon.
Told about the resolution, Lauzen said Kious "has a truly perverse sense of humor."
"He made a resolution to make all bridges in Kane County toll bridges. That shows the quality of Chris Kious' contribution to the board," Lauzen said.
The full County Board still must approve the suggested toll amounts and discounts. The bridge is on schedule to open to traffic in 2022.