Tollway to test new technology at I-Pass lanes on Tri-State
By ROSALIND ROSSI Transportation Reporter July 16, 2014 11:38PM
About 1,500 feet after drivers pass through the Touhy Avenue I-Pass lanes on I-94/I-294, they would pass under a metal arch declaring “Test Zone No Tolls Taken."
Starting next year, cars and trucks that exit the Touhy Avenue I-Pass toll booth lanes on the Tri-State Tollway will automatically drive through a tollway testing site 1500 feet later that officials say will be the first of its kind in the nation.
Under a $2.7 million project announced Wednesday, the “living laboratory” will allow Tollway officials to try out new tolling options.
Those options could include smartphone tolling; transponders that confirm a toll is paid and warn of low balances; new cameras that offer enhanced photos of license plates; and technology that would allow Illinois toll booths to accept toll passes from more states.
Tollway spokeswoman Wendy Abrams said the site will be able to test “live” traffic.
“We think this can be a useful tool,” Abrams said. “The tollway industry is rapidly changing and we want to stay at the cutting edge, and this tollway technology will help us do that.”
The Touhy Avenue I-Pass lanes were selected for the experimental site because they feature a representative mix of cars, trucks and multi-axle vehicles, Abrams said.
Under the project, about 1,500 feet after drivers pass through the Touhy Avenue I-Pass lanes on I-94/I-294, they would pass under a metal arch declaring “Test Zone No Tolls Taken.’’
“We are just collecting data,’’ Abrams said.
The experimental site potentially could generate new revenues by allowing the tollway to charge other agencies and private manufacturers to test new equipment and technologies there, officials said.
Funding for the project will come out of the tollway’s 2014 budget.
Construction will start this year and the site should be operational in early 2015.