State closing NW Side emissions test facility





by CYRYL JAKUBOWSKI

Northwest Side residents whose vehicles require emissions testing will have to drive to the nearest facility in Skokie after Nov. 1 because the 30-year-old facility Side at 6959 W. Forest Preserve Drive as well as three other facilities will be closed, according to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.

The facility on Forest Preserve Drive, which was one of the original facilities that opened when Illinois began the emissions testing program in 1986, as well as the facilities at 1850 W. Webster Ave., 2450 Landmeier Road in Elk Grove Village and 7460 Duvan Drive in Tinley Park, will be closed by the state because of a new contract with Applus Technologies, according to the agency. The facility in Skokie is at 3555 W. Jarvis Ave.

Other facilities are at 195 Liberty Road, Crystal Lake, 580 Bond St., Lincolnshire, 435 Weston Ridge Road, Naperville, 1675 Mitchell Boulevard, Schaumburg, and 2161 Northwestern Ave., Waukegan.

IEPA spokeswoman Kim Biggs said that the agency is streamlining its testing program in order to save about $8 million. Biggs said that the contract with the company expired after 10 years.

"The Illinois EPA is streamlining the vehicle emissions testing program as a result of a new testing contract that will take effect on November 1, 2016," Biggs said. "The new contract reflects a more efficient, more accurate and less expensive test that will result in significant cost savings to the State of Illinois."

Biggs said that emissions tests are much different than they were in the past. Idle exhaust and gas cap pressure tests have not been required for vehicles since 2012, when some vehicles became exempt from emissions test requirements. He said that the only test that is used now is through the on-board diagnostics of the car, which is more efficient and takes less time.

Congress enacted the Clean Air Act to improve air quality and reduce air pollution in 1970. In 1977 the act was amended to include an inspection and maintenance program.

In 1983 the U.S. EPA began sanctions to withhold federal highway funding from Illinois for failure to meet ozone health requirements. In response, Illinois created the Illinois Vehicle Emissions Testing Program.

The program was modified to meet the requirements of the 1990 amendment to the federal act to require exhaust emissions and a gas cap pressure test. Those requirements were eliminated by the state in 2012.

"The new network will include changes to some testing locations while also providing added convenience for motorists including a second test position at most primary stations and no appointments required at inspection and repair facilities," Biggs said. "These improvements will save taxpayers millions of dollars each year while continuing to meet federal and state requirements."

Biggs said that after Nov. 1 there will be 10 primary test stations left in the Chicago area that will be supplemented inspection and repair facilities that motorists can access without an appointment. "The supplemental facilities have not been finalized," he said.

"Motorists have other options in addition to the Skokie location," Biggs said, referring to stations at 425 S. Lombard Road, Addison, and 5231 W. 70th Place, Bedford Park.

Applus is the primary contractor responsible for the management and operation of the state vehicle emissions testing program, according to its Web site. The company processes more than 1.9 million vehicle emission test records annually and generates motorist compliance records for the Illinois Secretary of State’s Office.

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