Monthly Archives: December 2012

Chicago Skyway Tolls Going Up January 1st

On January 1st, drivers who use the Chicago Skyway toll road will be paying more to use the 7.8 mile length of tollway.

Toll rates will rise 50 cents from the current $3.50 to $4.00.

According to a report from Fox News citing the Federal Highway Administration, the Skyway was already the costliest interstate toll road in the U.S. averaging $.46 cents per mile. The rate increase will bump that up to $.51 per mile.

The City of Chicago leased the Skyway, which links the Dan Ryan to the Indiana Toll Road, to a private investment group in 2005 for 99 years and $1.83 billion dollars.

According to Michael S. Lowrey, spokesperson for the Skyway Concession Company, rate increases were part of the original agreement and more increases to ride the Skyway are on the horizon.

IDOT, State Police Pushing Safety For New Year’s Holiday

State agencies encouraging drivers to celebrate responsibly this New Year's

It’s the most dangerous holiday of the year.

According to AAA, and analysis of NHTSA historical crash data, New Year’s Eve/New Year’s Day is far and away the deadliest holiday of the year.

That’s why the Illinois Department of Transportation, Illinois State Police and over 300 law enforcement agencies across the state will be stepping up efforts to reduce traffic fatalities this New Year’s.

With just a few days left in 2012, state traffic fatalities are at 946 compared to 918 in 2011–a 3% increase.

These sobering numbers are another reason IDOT’s “Drive To Survive” campaign is ramping up for the holiday with more roadside safety checks, safety belt enforcement zones and generally heavier traffic patrols and enforcement by state, county and municipal police departments.

Top 11 Most Stolen U.S. Road Signs

Came across this interesting website called 11 Points.

It’s the Spinal Tap version of the top 10 list. So instead of 10, they post 11 Points.

11 Points did a recent story ranking the most stolen road signs in America. According to a website, the number one road sign stolen in the world is an Austrian town named Fucking. I can’t believe anyone would be surprised at Fucking’s number one world ranking.

Back in the U.S., we have some interesting competitors to Fucking.

CBS 2 Covers Parking Meter Rate Increase Story

CBS 2 does a video version of The Expired Meter’s story on Chicago’s top spot for the nation’s most expensive downtown parking meter rates, but leaves out what news outlet actually broke the story.

However, Newsradio 780 AM did cover the story correctly giving proper credit.

Listen to WBBM Radio’s news story on the meter increases here.

AAA Warns Drivers Of Potential Problems With E15 Fuel

Drivers, be careful what fuel you put in your car, AAA is warning the new E15 fuel could damage your engine.

AAA conducted a recent study which the pro-automobile organization says shows the potential for voided warranties and engine damage from consumer confusion over the E15 ethanol gasoline blend, recently approved in June by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). While 95% of all gas sold in the U.S. contains some percentage of ethanol, it never made up more than 10% of the fuel blend. Corn is the main ingredient in formulating ethanol.

The survey shows 95% of consumers have never heard of E15, a fuel that contains 15% ethanol and 85% gasoline and AAA reports only 5% or roughly 12 million of the 240 million vehicles on the American roads, can burn E15 without damaging their engines.

While AAA strongly supports the development of alternative fuels, it’s auto engineering experts believe using E15 in the wrong car could speed up engine wear and failure, cause fuel system damage and make “check engine” light indicators to trigger in error.

Based on this data, AAA is urging regulators and the ethanol fuel industry to stop selling E15 until consumers are better protected and more aware of the fuel.

“It is clear that millions of Americans are unfamiliar with E15, which means there is a strong possibility that many motorists may improperly fill up using this gasoline and damage their vehicle,” said Kevin Bakewell, AAA Chief Public Affairs Officer, The Auto Club Group. “Bringing E15 to the market without adequate safeguards does not responsibly meet the needs of consumers.”

Chicago Clinches Title For Nation’s Highest Parking Meter Rates

Downtown Meter Rates Hit $6.50 Per Hour January 1st

Chicago's downtown parking meter rates will be the highest in the nation when meter rates go up on January 1st.

Another year, another parking meter price hike.

Chicago motorists will celebrate the start of 2013 by ringing a fifth consecutive year of parking meter rate increases, further insuring the Windy City retains its title for the nation’s most expensive parking meters.

Back in December, 2008 the city council approved a privatization deal put together by then Mayor Richard Daley, which leased the city’s metered parking spaces to a private firm for $1.16 billion dollar. But as part of that 75-year agreement, the city agreed to allow meter rates to rise annually for the contract’s initial five years, ultimately making Chicago’s downtown rates the highest in nation.

“Five years later, I still talk to people and businesses that still get upset about it,” said Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd), who led the fight against the meter privatization five years ago. “When they see rates go up, it reminds them how bad the deal is in perpetuity.”

Just four years ago, most parking meters were just a paltry 25 cents per hour. In just over a week though, rates will rise 25 cents an hour in most neighborhoods from the current $1.75 to $2.00, while second tier pricing in what’s considered the Central Business District (neighborhoods adjacent to the Loop like River North, Gold Coast, South Loop), prices will go up 50 cents per hour from $3.50 to $4.00 . Downtown parking meters will see the largest increase, jumping up 75 cents an hour and moving from the current $5.75 per hour to a whopping $6.50 per hour.

Some Chicago drivers were surprised rates were going up again in 2013.

“I didn’t know it was being raised,” said a woman who only gave her name as Angela, feeding a parking meter paybox on Lincoln Avenue in the Lakeview neighborhod. “I think it’s really frustrating.”

Despite 2013 being the last of the five years of initial price increases, parking meter rates can still rise annually. According to the contract future rate increases would be tied to the rate of inflation.

“I don’t like it, I’m not a fan,” said Jordan Williams who lives in the Old Irving neighborhood. “I think the money should to to paving streets and not LAZ Parking (the company which manages the operations for Chicago Parking Meters, LLC).”

“It seems like rates on about everything are going up,” said Lanie Shiller of Lakeview. “It’s ridiculous.”

While Chicago’s 2012 meter rates ranked highest in the U.S., according to an annual report issued by San Francisco’s SFPark, within the first few days of 2013, Chicago will overtake Vancouver, BC (where the maximum rate is now $6.00 per hour) for the title of having the costliest parking meters in all of North America.

Since SFMTA’s report came out in early 2012, the rates in some cities have risen. In the U.S., the Windy City’s ranking as number one is followed by San Francisco ($5.50/hr) New York ($5/hr), Los Angeles ($5/hr), and Seattle ($4/hr) based on research by The Expired Meter.

Read more at DNA Info Chicago.

Chicago Speed Camera Finalists Brought Lobbyist Muscle To Bid Process

Never bring a knife to a gun fight.

Or in Chicago, never bid for a city contract without hiring a high powered lobbyist.

That’s seemingly the lesson the Chicago Tribune is reporting in the battle for Chicago’s speed camera contract.

According to the Tribune investigation, the two vendor finalists, ACS (Xerox) and American Traffic Solutions, both hired big name lobbyists with local political connections to smooth their path to a potential contract. In fact, of the nine initial bidders, the only three companies that hired lobbyists got an invitation to pitch their automated camera enforcement technologies in person–finalists ACS and ATS and Optotraffic.

Coincidentally, none of the vendors without lobbyists made it any further than the original submission of their bid.

City Pays Out $85,000 To Wrongly Ticketed Driver

Remember Mark Geinosky?

He was the gentleman who seemed to be the target of some sort of parking ticket vendetta perpetuated by one or more Chicago police officers back in 2007.

He kept on receiving violation notices from the city for parking tickets he never received, at places he never had been.

While he fought and won all the tickets, Geinosky filed complaints with the Chicago Police Department. Initially, the complaints went nowhere until the Chicago Tribune’s Jon Yates, the Problem Solver columnist, stepped in to shine a bright light on Geinosky’s plight.

On The Radio With Nick D. Saturday Night

Did you know Chicago’s parking meter rates are going up again January 1st?

The Parking Ticket Geek joins Nick Digilio Saturday night at 8 PM on WGN Radio 720 AM to talk about the impending rate increase along with all things tickets, traffic and driving in Chicagoland.

And as usual, the nitwit Geek will dole out to parking ticket advice to callers with questions.

Tune in WGN Radio 720 AM or stream it via the internet here.

Does VW Billboard Really Promote Distracted Driving?

A billboard along I-55 for a suburban Volkswagen dealership is an open invitation for distracted driving, at least according to the Chicago Tribune.

The Tribune dedicates precious column inches of newspaper to the horrific story about the callous and uncaring Autobarn VW, a dealership in Countryside that has a billboard ad which says, “SCAN THIS FOR THE BEST PASSAT DEAL OF YOUR LIFE,” situated next to a QR code.