A proposal to use high-speed paid toll lanes on Chicago freeways could reduce congestion but it’s unclear what impact it could have on the number of serious and fatal Chicago car accidents.
The Chicago Tribune reports the lanes are being promoted by experts as a way to reduce congestion in the nation’s third-worst congested city. The Metropolitan Planning Council and the Illinois Tollway say it’s time for Chicago motorists to embrace “congestion pricing.”
The system would work by charging a toll, perhaps about $5 for the typical commute, to use a lane where traffic would be managed to guarantee a steady flow of traffic.
“The public understands that unpredictable traffic conditions make everyday driving like a game of roulette,” said Joseph Schwieterman, an urban transportation expert at DePaul University. “Congestion pricing is about the only weapon we have in our arsenal to encourage more efficient use of our expressways.”
Supporters say the system would create incentives to travel during less-congested times of day, encourage car pooling and the use of mass transit, and reduce the amount of time and money wasted by motorists stuck in traffic.
Our Chicago car accident attorneys think such a system could help reduce accidents. Rear-end collisions and distracted driving accidents are most likely to occur in slow moving, bumper-to-bumper traffic. Such accidents further snarl traffic and cause additional distractions for passing motorists.
However, accidents at higher speeds are far more dangerous. Federal studies show the risk of being seriously injured or killed doubles with every 5 mph increase in speed over 55 mph. Additionally, many are rightly concerned about instituting a system allowing authorities to begin charging to use roads — taxpayers already own the roads; they paid to have them built.
Officials targeted three routes to study: the Stevenson Expressway (I-55) from I-355 to downtown Chicago; the Jane Addams Tollway (I-90) from I-290/Illinois Highway 53 to Elgin; and the reversible lanes of the Kennedy Expressway (I-90/94).
Express lanes and high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes are being used or are being considered in 22 states.
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