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CHICAGO — Getting an emissions test can be a real pain for Chicago drivers.

State Sen. Rob Martwick (D-10th District) says he recently experienced a two-hour wait at the Skokie testing site.

“I’m like, ‘when is this line going to end?'” Martwick said. “I keep going and going and see it goes that way now.”

For years it’s been a problem, says State Rep. Lindsey LaPointe (D-19th District).

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“Chicago drivers should not have to deal with the hassles of driving out of the city for what is a basic government service,” LaPointe said.

There used to be 20 vehicle emissions testing sites across Chicagoland. But in 2016, former Governor Bruce Rauner privatized the emissions testing system in Illinois in hopes of saving $100 million over 10 years. 

The state closing four locations – Bucktown, Harwood Heights, Elk Grove Village, and Tinley Park – leaves 16 sites to serve drivers, with no spots remaining in Chicago. The closest site is in Bedford Park to the southwest and Skokie to the north. 

“It was a unilateral decision on the part of then-governor Bruce Rauner,” said State Sen. Sara Feigenholtz (D-6th District). “I consider it a very failed blunder on his part to actually take away four emissions testing stations in a city whose population is 2.8 million.”

State lawmakers passed a bill signed by Governor JB Pritzker last week that requires the state’s Environmental Protection Agency to replace the two dismantled vehicle emissions testing stations in Chicago. EPA must also develop a plan on potential locations and costs by the projected opening date of October. 

As a result, the abandoned sites could look a lot different. 

“There’s new technology now and ultimately, we may be able to have them in other locations and they may be a self-testing station,” Feigenholtz said. “It may look like an ATM machine or a kiosk, if you will.”

The hope is to reduce wait times to 15 minutes, making the emissions test much more accessible.

“This is a good thing for the city of Chicago, for the state of Illinois, and for hard-working people who need this process to comply with the goal of clean air,” Martwick said. “They need this process to be easier.”