Illiana Corridor overcomes roadblock

The billion-dollar toll road that will link Chicago and Indiana is moving forward after being approved by Chicago’s MPO policy committee.

The Illiana Corridor, the 47-mile regional highway that will cross two states once it is built, has made progress after receiving approval from the Metropolitan Planning Organisation (MPO) policy committee of the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP).

The approval comes just days after CMAP’s board blocked the project in a 10-to-4 vote, and Gerald Bennett, CMAP’s chairman, described it as “a highway to nowhere land”.

The policy committee’s vote clears the way for the proposed project to receive federal funding and for the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) to obtain bids from the private sector.

“This regional highway will not only serve the largest and fastest growing areas in Illinois, it will have a long-term economic impact of more than $4 billion in the region,” said Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, a loyal supporter of the project.

The Illiana Corridor is expected to create more than 9,000 construction jobs and 28,000 long-term jobs, according to the statement issued by Quinn’s office.

The Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) and IDOT have been planning the project with the Federal Highway Administration since the spring of 2011. The planning process is expected to be completed by 2014.

The two states were to work jointly on the project, but in September announced that each would use separate public-private partnerships (P3s) to procure the highway.

Indiana has several large-scale transport infrastructure projects underway, but for Illinois the Illiana Corridor would be the first P3 of its kind.