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Editorials

Our View: Ill. Tollway not what Revolution would’ve backed


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History books detail the rallying cry of the American Revolution: No taxation without representation.

Shouldn’t the same general philosophy hold true with the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority?

The Reagan Tollway (formerly the East-West Tollway) runs from Hillside to near the Iowa border. In all, Interstate 88 stretches about 140 miles; about 100 of those run from Iowa to the east county line of DeKalb County.

In all, the Illinois Tollway has 286 miles of roads. It would make sense to have a resident from those 100 miles I-88 occupies in northwestern Illinois to have a seat on the Tollway board.

It does not. That should change.

In October, Gov. Pat Quinn had a chance to address the deficiency. Of the nine Tollway board members, eight had terms nearing expiration. Quinn reappointed three members and named five new members. None were from our area.

The Tollway board now has three members from Chicago, whose city limits barely touch one toll road near O’Hare International Airport. They are chairwoman Paula Wolff, James Banks and James Sweeney.

Five members live in the suburbs: David Gonzalez of Chicago Heights, Jeffrey Redick of Elmhurst, Mark Peterson of Lincolnshire, Terrence D’Arcy of Shorewood and Tom Weisner of Aurora.

The only non-Chicago, nonsuburban board member is Carl Towns of Rockford.

This big-city-centric group might not realize it, but its decisions affect people who live many miles away from Tollway headquarters in Downers Grove.

Who speaks for residents of this region when tolls are raised by 87.5 percent? Or when decisions are made regarding the Tollway’s $12.1 billion construction program that begins this year? No major projects are planned for our region, by the way.

It’s our understanding the intent of the state’s Toll Highway Act was to ensure maximum geographic representation on the Tollway board. When Quinn made his appointments, that philosophy was ignored.

How much difference would a Tollway board representative from DeKalb County or Ogle or Lee counties make? We won’t know until the governor gives it a try.

The next time there’s an opening, we think he should.

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