RICHMOND – Striking back at drivers who routinely fail to pay up, the Illinois Tollway created a virtual wall of shame this week on which it outed the worst offenders, including six McHenry County companies.
The state agency posted the names of 157 companies on its website, along with the amount of money it says each owes.
The local companies included an emergency cleaning company, a trucking business, and a landscaping contractor. Combined, the six owed the state more than $41,000. Several had gone out of business. To make the list, a person or company has to have racked up more than $1,000 in unpaid tolls and fines. Although only companies are listed currently, individual drivers also could find their names on the list.
In the top spot was Landa Transport, a Frankfort-based trucking company that is on the hook for nearly $215,000, the tollway said. The company didn't respond to a phone message seeking comment.
Landscape Concepts Construction of Richmond was No. 65 on the list, with $13,174 outstanding. A women who answered a phone number listed for the company Thursday said it was no longer in business.
Skyway Lines Inc. of Lake in the Hills was ranked No. 73, with fines of $10,693. A working number for the company couldn't be found Thursday.
At No. 87 was United Emergency Services Inc. of McHenry, with fines of $7,644. A phone number listed for the company was no longer in service.
At No. 118 was AA Equipment Rental of Algonquin. It had $4,203 in fines, according to the state. A number listed for the company would not accept incoming calls.
Specialty Contractors of Lake in the Hills was listed at No. 120, with fines of $3,940.45. President John O'Hara said he disputed the toll violations in court and settled the matter earlier this month. He said he was disappointed – but not surprised – to see his commercial and electrical construction business listed as a "Super Scofflaw."
"With government agencies, there is such a high level of inefficiency that I'm not surprised," he said. "You have no voice with the tollway. The only way to dispute a violation is to go to litigation."
American Auto Sales Inc. of Algonquin was No. 142 with fines of $1,911. A phone number listed for the company had been disconnected.
"If seeing your company's name on this list becomes an incentive for you to pick up the phone and call us to settle your debt, then we've achieved our goal," said the tollway's executive director, Kristi Lafleur. The new webpage was sanctioned by a law Gov. Pat Quinn signed this week.
Many of those named are construction and transportation companies. There is also a company that services elevators and one that cleans diamonds.
Collectively, they owe $3.7 million, the agency said.
A similar approach has been tried in other states. The North Texas Tollway Authority, for example, has an online list of more than 78,000 of its top toll violators. It gives their names, hometowns and what they owe. At the top of the list is a woman from the northeast Dallas suburb of Sachse who the agency says owes $153,046.47.
In Illinois, the agency depends on tolls to maintain its 286 miles of interstate roadways in a dozen northern counties.
Officials initially had pledged to turn the roads into freeways once the bonds used to build the original 187 miles were paid off.
"The promise was well-intentioned, but shortsighted," the agency says on its website.
The entire list can be found at www.illinoistollway.com/tolls-and-i-pass/violations/super-scofflaws