Updated: March 18, 2013 6:47AM
Recently, a few Sun-Times readers wrote letters to the editor asking, “Why haven’t the Illinois tollways become freeways?”
Legislative leaders at the time the agency was created in 1953 did promise that the toll roads would become freeways once the bonds used to build the original 187 miles of the Illinois Tollway were paid off.
That promise was well-intentioned, but short-sighted, as it did not consider the need to maintain the system or answer future demands for new roads. Maintenance of the tollway system must be paid for one way or another. If there were no tollway, the state would need to raise the gas tax by about 9 cents a gallon statewide to pay for maintenance and operation of the existing tollway roads. If there were no tollway, new roads including the Veterans Memorial Tollway (I-355) and soon the Elgin O’Hare Western Access would not get built, since the state’s roadway funds are needed to support other interstates and roadways throughout the state.
In addition, toll roads and bridges are commonplace in more than 30 states, as many find that they are the best way to build and support critical infrastructure.
The Illinois Tollway receives no state or federal funds for maintenance and operations. It is a user-fee system that many consider to be a better option than increased gas taxes for everyone.
Only those who use our system pay to drive on it.
Kristi Lafleur, executive director,
A shameful vote vs. Hagel
Sen. Mark Kirk’s vote for filibustering Chuck Hagel’s nomination as secretary of defense was shameful. We sent Sen. Kirk to Washington to represent us, not to play political games. His vote was a slap in the face of a genuine war hero and patriot, of someone who is eminently qualified for the post.
Silvio Anichini, Edgewater
Pay them what they are worth
Raymon V. Janutis, president, CEO of Envision Unlimited. Michael Saltsman of Employment Policies Institute. Two guys who should be making minimum wage.
Bryan Ceglarek, Jefferson Park
No extra pay for living in city
I heard on the radio on Feb. 7 that police officers from the City of Chicago are going to be asking for extra benefits and/or salary for living in Chicago! I worked for the Chicago Public Library for 38 years before I retired and it was — without exception — mandatory that you reside in Chicago! Surely a police offcers’s job was more urgent than the Chicago Public Library.
Did the police officers not understand that was a stipulation of the job?
Joanne B. Haas, Chicago Ridge