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New tollway signs bearing governor's name irk activist
By Marni Pyke | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 2/1/2008 12:18 AM

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He thought it was the end of the road for expensive signs plastering Gov. Rod Blagojevich's name all over the tollways, but agency watchdog Dennis Twohig did a double-take while driving down the new I-355 extension recently.

Twohig is a frequent visitor at Illinois State Toll Highway Authority board of directors meetings, where he has complained about signs for the Open Road Tolling program that prominently display Blagojevich's name.

The large, blue signs cost $15,000 each because of their odd size and the specialized material required. In comparison, regular tollway information placards are $3,200 apiece.

Twohig contends the $15,000 expense is excessive and promotes the governor unnecessarily.

During budget hearings earlier in 2007, Twohig said he was promised the agency had completed posting its signs for the Open Roads program.

But late last year, when he went for his first drive on the newly named Veterans Memorial Tollway, Twohig saw new signs on the toll plaza near Joliet.

"I feel these signs are a failure of leadership," he said at a Thursday meeting.

The tollway in November opened up a 12.5-mile expanded stretch of I-355, which links it with I-80.

Tollway officials said it's necessary to have consistent signs throughout the system.

"They don't just say 'Gov. Rod Blagojevich,' they say 'open road tolling,' " agency spokeswoman Joelle McGinnis said.

Without Blagojevich's support, the I-355 expansion wouldn't have been possible, she added.