UPDATE: The Winnebago County Highway Department has made the following announcement concerning the Frank E. Bauer Parkway/Harlem Road Toll Plaza Demolition:
In cooperation with the Rockford Area Convention and Visitor’s Bureau and the Rockford Park District, the demolition of the Frank E. Bauer Parkway/Harlem Road Toll Plaza will be delayed until Monday, April 15, 2013.
This delay is due to the heavy traffic which will occur during a two-weekend PUMA Cup soccer tournament---the largest sports tournament of the year held in our community.
In addition, effective Monday, April 1, 2013, tolls will no longer be collected per our previous commitment . The public will be able to continue driving across the bridge until April 15th at which time the bridge will then be totally closed to traffic for approximately one week.
MACHESNEY PARK (WIFR) -- We will no longer have to scrounge for change to pass through one busy Stateline street.
That familiar clink we hear when we cross the Bauer Parkway Toll Bridge will soon be a thing of the past. At the end of March, the Winnebago County Highway Department will begin to rip out the toll booth, a project many drivers say is long overdue. It cost $10.6 million to build the bridge back in 1993 and it's taken two decades to pay off.
“It's good they're taking down the toll, it’s paid for, it’s time," says Cindy Liebl, who lives in Rockton.
"I’m glad for me and everyone else too, it was supposed to be gone a long time ago I believe,” adds Frank Wenger of Rockford.
The plan is to close down the roadway for the first 10 days of April so workers can remove the toll plaza, a move Machesney Park's mayor says is cheaper and safer for the public. Drivers agree.
“Nobody needs to run into anything, so it'll be a lot safer," says Jerry Peppers, who takes bridge nearly every day between his Rockford home and Machesney Park.
Some who use the bridge say removing the toll won't make them drive this way more often, others can;t wait for the changes.
“It won't make a difference to me, but it will be nice not to stop. I can just keep going," says Belvidere resident Tana Girardin.
“It'll be nice; I don't have to pay 50 cents each time,"adds Caledonia resident Dan Brown.
“We live on one side of the river, we're constantly going to the other side, it'll be great when it's gone," says Peppers.
Traffic will be restricted to one lane in each direction until the end of April. The county will pay a Rockford company $155,000 to remove the entire toll plaza and do some repair work on the road. There will be a ceremony on April 2nd to kick off the demolition work.