We traveled southeast out of Madison Wisconsin today and headed toward Wheaton Illinois. Somewhere along the way we must have entered Illinois even though my wife and I don’t remember seeing any sign of welcome like you see in most states. What we did see was one toll booth after another nickel and diming us across the state. We stopped at 5 toll booths during our 80 mile trip paying $1.90, $3.00, $1.50, .60, $1.90 for a total of $8.90 to use roads that according to the Illinois Transportation Department were originally supposed to be FREEways. This same website (Illinois tollway.com) also said the average per mile fee is .06 cents per mile while we were charged a little more than .11 cents per mile during our trip.
I really do not like the idea of user fees in the first place. These type of fees tend to put an unfair burden on the poorest members of our society. What is so wrong with a fair gas tax that covers all the costs of maintenance and repair. My family has traveled in more than a dozen western states so far that do not see the need to make tourists stop every 10 minutes and shell out their hard earned money. Once a tourist finds the time to research the IPASS (which gives you a 50% discount) you are already through Illinois. Oh, by the way, even if we did buy the pass we needed $30 just to get started.
The good news is this will help us prepare ahead of time for the toll booths in the eastern states we will be visiting. But I have to say Illinois did not make a good first impression on our family. When we finally reached our final destination, Wheaton Illinois, we experienced a shortage of available rooms for us to stay. When we took the last room at a local hotel we had to pay $150 for the same type room we paid only $85 the night before in Madison Wisconsin. In addition the Wheaton hotel offered NO breakfast while the one in Madison provided a FREE full breakfast for the entire family.
As a result our family will not be spending two days in Illinois and we will add another day to our Michigan travels. One thing we have noticed while traveling is the price you pay for goods and services varies greatly. It is very important to conserve your resources to guarantee you either more time on the road or more quality activities on the road, or both. Lisa and I never mind paying a higher price for something within our means, as long as it has value.