We’ve all done it.
At least since the dawn of the I-Pass Era. And before last spring.
Before the I-Pass, you had no choice if you were on one of the Illinois tollways: You made sure you had enough coins in the armrest cup holder, ready to hurl at the dingy white basket or to hand to a bored-looking toll booth worker. (Hopefully you didn’t hurl the coins at the toll booth worker.)
Then came the I-Pass, that little rectangular box easily confused for the garage door opener.
If you were regularly traveling to Chicago, you Velcroed one to your dashboard or clipped it to your flip-down visor and away you went. You no longer had to dig in the cup holder for possibly-sticky coins – depending on how full your last drive-thru soda had been – or even stop at the tollbooth. You just sailed right by the toll booths, knowing the transponder in your I-Pass would register you as “paid up.”
You say you only went to Chicago a couple times a year, and didn’t have an I-Pass?
As we were saying: We’ve all done it.
You saw the signs saying “toll ahead” and while you were getting ready to drift over to the right, assembling the correct change blindly in your right hand, you realized you were in the I-Pass lanes, had just driven right past the booths and failed to pay the toll.
You didn’t mean to break the law in the Land of Lincoln. But you did.
Rejoice, Badger Staters: The days of fumbling for change while trying to keep an eye on the road are over.
The Illinois Tollway announced Feb. 25 it’s permanently eliminating cash toll collections and will accept only I-Pass, E-ZPass or online payments, the Associated Press reported. Customers unable to pay online can pay by check or money order.
The move comes after the Tollway suspended cash tolls in mid-March 2020 because of the coronavirus outbreak.
The Tollway also says it will begin a program in May to help low-income drivers by waiving deposits on I-Pass transponders and adding $20 in tolls to people with household incomes up to 2 1/2 times the poverty line.
So if you don’t have an I-Pass or E-ZPass because you only go to Chicago once a year for a Brewers-Cubs game – on Monday the Cubs were given permission to welcome fans back to Wrigley Field, as happened with the Brewers last week – you can go to IllinoisTollway.com and work out what you owe.
Keep the coins for use at the drive-thru window at McDonald’s or Taco Bell.