I used to drive from Iowa to Chicago on Interstate 88 through Illinois but not any more. The tolls (especially for drivers paying cash vs. using ipass) have gotten way too high, reaching $10.20 this year. (I used a handy online toll calculator, http://www.illinoistollway.com/tolls-and-i-pass/toll-information/trip-calculator, to confirm that it would have cost me $10.20 to use I-88 between western Illinois and Chicago.)
On the way to Chicago, I drove Interstate 80 which has no tolls (in Illinois at least) although it does have a lot of road construction. But on the way back to Iowa, I had to stop off at my sister’s in Oak Park – which is closer to I-88. So the trick was: how to get to I-80 without adding too much time to my trip or paying too many tolls en route. I’m not sure I succeeded ultimately but here’s what I did: I took I-88 a few miles (paying $1.50 for the privilege) then took 355 for a few miles, which also turned out to be a toll road so I shelled out another $1.90. Then I took 355 to Interstate 55 and then to Interstate 80. Ultimately, I did save money on tolls (about $6.80) but I lengthened my trip slightly (by about 20 minutes, I think) and ultimately paid a little more for gas.
This is good information to have since the tolls will continue to rise in coming years, according to recent news reports, showing that they rose by 40 percent on Jan. 1, 2012 and are scheduled to rise by 10 percent each year in 2013 and 2014. argh.
I have a built-in defensive mechanism that allows me to promptly forget how much I pay for things, so I don’t wig out about all the expenses I face. Still I knew for a fact that the tolls had risen because before I didn’t really notice them but now I do, i.e. it’s the difference between repeatedly throwing a couple of quarters and dimes into a toll booth collection net and handing over a couple of bucks each time.