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Ease on Down the Road

By Roland Lara on Dec 20, 2005 1:30PM

2005_12_19_Eisenhower expy.jpg
In yesterday’s Tribune, the transportation columnist, Jon Hilkevitch, discusses an intriguing email he received suggesting that the private sector build toll lanes adjacent to existing expressways.

(Jon Hilkevitch’s transportation column, by the bye, is called “Getting Around,” which seems a column title more apt for a recounting of Paris Hilton and her skankalicious pairings, but there you have it.)

So Hilkevitch received an email from former state representative and 2002 Libertarian candidate for governor Cal Skinner suggesting just such a not-so-loony idea.

Let’s say it’s a Saturday, and you’re in the western ‘burbs visiting your dog and meeting Mom for lunch at Baisi Thai (this is totally hypothetical), and you need to get back to the city in time for drinks at the Motel Bar and dinner at Parlor. If you’re driving back on the Eisenhower even on a Saturday afternoon, the trip’s going to take you a week to ten days. It’s absurd. And Chicagoist has fully blocked all memories of the painful workaday commute on that same “express”way when we, ahem, didn’tsomuchliveintheactualcitypleasedon’tjudge.

So Hilkevitch starts to explore the idea of letting the private sector erect (hee hee) parallel toll ways to, say, the Eisenhower or Stevenson. It’s already been done in California, they say. So you can choose to pay to get home sooner or take the regular expressway on the F.F. Plan* and plod along like the little engine that sucks.

Let’s talk about this. Private toll ways? Would there be bidding wars for naming rights? There are certain elements here at Chicagoist that might start selling pints of blood to raise money for the Vince Vaughn Memorial Toll Road.

Sure, there’s going to be environmental impact and the usual issues with corruption in public works, so Chicagoist isn’t passing judgment yet on whether this is a good idea. But anything that trims a fortnight off the return trip from lunch with Mom in Oakbrook or a visit with Grandma in Back of the Yards (again, totally hypothetical) has got our attention.

* "F.F." = "Fo' Free"