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October 08 www. bus- ex. com 53 additional lanes to meet the traffi c demand." But there are times when additional capacity is the only solution. The 286 miles of tollway routes that make up the Illinois Tollway system— Tri- State Tollway ( I- 94/ I- 294/ I- 80), Reagan Memorial Tollway ( I- 88), Jane Addams Memorial Tollway ( I- 90) and the Veterans Memorial Tollway ( I- 355)— were designed and largely constructed after the signing in 1953 of the Toll Highway Act by the governor of Illinois. That gave the State the ability to create roads and collect tolls on them, and those tolls stayed at the same level for the past 23 years. The Illinois Tollway is a not-for- profi t operation, and all the toll revenues are used on maintenance and repair; they don't fi nd their way into the State treasury. But a system designed 50 years ago, for just over 61,000 vehicles a day, is going to fi nd itself creaking when subjected to 1.4 million a day. Journeys at peak hours can seem endless; goods are delayed, people are late for appointments. The cost to the economy of congestion runs into billions of dollars every year. After 50 years, the Illinois Tollway system is ripe for renewal— and that's what it's getting, in a $ 6.3 billion capital program begun in 2004 and scheduled to have delivered most of its improvements by the end of 2009. It's designed to increase capacity and greatly improve traffi c fl ow. One of the fi rst areas Kovacs and his team turned their attention to was the tolling system itself, and the costs of running it. " We embraced electronic toll collection and removed barrier collection in the fi rst two years of the capital program," says Kovacs. " Using electronic collection is easier to administer and requires fewer toll collectors, so it saves on labor costs. Those who enrolled in the I- PASS program saw no increase in rates; those who elect to pay cash pay double, because it costs more to collect and administer." I- PASS has achieved more than 80 percent average daily participation and a dramatic improvement in travel time. " We've opened all the plazas so that drivers with I- PASS can travel through them at highway speeds without stopping or delay." The greatest source of damage to the pavement is heavy commercial vehicles. " Truck traffi c determines the life of the pavement, so we've increased tolls for commercial traffi c. As with the cash- paying customers, it's fair that commercial vehicles also pay more because it costs more to serve them," Kovacs says. I- PASS fi rst appeared in 1993 and initially required users to stop, just like cash users. However, through the years, select toll- collection lanes at all toll plazas were dedicated to low-speed, non- stop travel, with only a handful of toll plazas offering high- speed non- stop travel for I- PASS users, and then only two lanes in each direction. The big step forward has been the ability to treat an entire plaza as a single zone and remove barriers completely. That gets traffi c moving better, and visible improvements like Open Road Tolling have increased motorists' tolerance for other construction activities and make the temporary inconvenience more worthwhile. Enforcement at the plazas is by means of cameras, which record front and back license plates; there are currently fi nes ( with legislative backup) for noncompliance, but the Illinois Tollway may eventually move to an approach of treating those who don't pay via the I- PASS system as simply customers choosing a variant payment method. These customers will most likely also be charged more to support the alternate payment method. The capital program is now well into the widening and reconstruction phase of the majority of the Tollway system. The Tollways are heavily congested already; expansion will help greatly, but it takes time. " We're very sensitive to the impact the construction work will have on people using our system, so we place a high priority on keeping the same number of lanes open during construction as we had before construction," says Kovacs. " If we have a section of roadway with three lanes in each direction ETC Corporation is a leading supplier of advanced toll collection solutions for some of the world's most prominent toll authorities, including the Illinois Tollway. The Tollway chose ETC as prime contractor and systems integrator of the Tollway's statewide implementation of its new Toll Revenue Management and Maintenance Program ( TRMMP), replacing an outdated legacy system. The TRMMP is the key operational system of the Tollway's multi- billion dollar congestion relief program. Working closely with the Tollway, and under an aggressive schedule, the ETC team fi rst implemented open road tolling on the statewide system of mainline toll plazas, helping to relieve congestion and provide benefi ts for the millions of drivers who use the toll roads. ETC then executed a carefully phased conversion program, replacing the Tollway's existing toll collection system with the industry- leading RITE Solution, providing the Tollway with signifi cant operational benefi ts. Today, the system accurately and reliably collects approximately 2 million transactions for the Tollway each day. ETC Corporation Illinois Tollway