Photo by Tim Skinner
Motorists try to get to the Vehicle Emissions Testing Center at 1000 E. Chain of Rocks Road in Pontoon Beach on May 31.
PONTOON BEACH | The Illinois Air Team Vehicle Emissions Testing center at 1000 E. Chain of Rocks Road was busy on May 31.
Drivers headed to the center to get their emissions test, causing a massive traffic jam.
The test is one of the requirements for drivers to get their license renewal sticker. The last day for vehicles to get their license renewed was May 31.
“So when they went to get their sticker at the DMV, the DMV told them that you haven’t passed your emission yet,” Pontoon Beach Mayor Mike Pagano said. “They’re not sending out any emission stuff either. So they were all trying to get their emission stuff done so they can get their sticker. That’s what we figured what was going on.”
Pagano said he was surprised by the large turnout at the emissions center.
“I have never seen it that crowded before in my life,” he said. “So our police department went down there and there really wasn’t much we could do. One lady was in the left-hand lane trying to turn in for an hour. I’m like, ‘You better get out of this lane. You can’t sit here.’ They were mostly off the road, but it was a mess. I couldn’t believe it.”
Pagano said he thought an accident had occurred when he saw the traffic jam.
The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, which regulates the emissions program, was forced to suspend mailing of vehicle emissions test notices in December 2015. Vehicle owners whose license plates expired at the end of March were the first motorists who didn’t get the emissions test notice.
“I’m guilty, too,” Pagano said. “My truck was expired and my boat trailer was expired.”
In April, the state resumed sending notices. The Illinois EPA’s emissions testing contractor, Applus Technologies Inc., printed out notices at no additional cost to the state.
“Illinois EPA did begin sending test notices again starting April 6,” Kim Biggs, acting public information officer for the Illinois EPA, said in an email. “That included motorists due in March, April and May, so all of those motorists have been working to get through the testing network in a shorter period of time.”