Illinois Governor signs PPP law

The Public-Private Partnerships for Transportation Act, which passed both chambers of the Illinois legislature earlier this year, enables the state to use public-private partnerships to finance and operate new transportation projects, but forbids the lease of existing toll roads to the private sector.

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, a Democrat, has signed into law a bill allowing state transportation agencies to develop public-private partnerships (PPPs) to finance or operate new transportation projects.

The law gives the Illinois Department of Transportation (DOT) as well as the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority (Tollway) the right “to develop, finance, and operate any part of one or more transportation projects through public-private agreements with one or more private entities”.

The bill, known as the Public-Private Partnerships for Transportation Act, passed both chambers of the Illinois State Legislature in late May and was sent to the governor in late June, according to the Illinois General Assembly website. The governor approved the bill on 23 August.

While encouraging the use of PPPs for new projects, the law forbids the Tollway from leasing or transferring an existing toll road to the private sector. The law also explicitly prohibits the Tollway from entering into PPP agreements to upgrade, reconstruct, or add lanes to toll roads that are currently “open to vehicular traffic”.

The act also stipulates that proceeds from a PPP agreement with the Illinois DOT be deposited in the State Construction Account Fund. Proceeds from a PPP agreement with the Illinois Tollway must be deposited into the State Toll Highway Authority Fund.

Illinois has not yet had broadly-enabling PPP legislation, though last year Quinn signed into law a measure enabling a PPP to construct a toll road between Illinois and Indiana known as the “Illiana” Expressway.

Last week, the Illinois Tollway board of directors also approved a $12 billion capital plan for infrastructure investments between 2012 and 2026. The plan includes about $8.3 billion to fund improvements to the Tollway’s existing systems as well as about $3.8 billion for new projects. The new projects include the widening of the Elgin O’Hare Expressway as well as planning studies for the Illiana Expressway.