CHICAGO — — Striking back at drivers who routinely fail to pay up, the Illinois Tollway created a virtual wall of shame Wednesday on which it outed the worst offenders.
The state agency posted the names of 157 companies on its website along with the amount of money it says each owes. To make the list, a person has to have racked up more than $1,000 in unpaid tolls and fines. Although only companies are listed currently, individual drivers could also 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 says. The company didn't respond to a phone message seeking comment.
"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 had initially 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.