Illinois’ I-55 project awaits government approval

A joint resolution from Illinois’ House and Senate is needed before the state DOT can issue a RFQ for the $425m project.

After issuing a Request for Information for a 25-mile, $425 million managed lane project outside Chicago, the Illinois Department of Transportation is waiting for state government approval before moving forward with procurement.

IDOT's plan to use a P3 to decrease traffic congestion along the Interstate 55 corridor must receive approval from the state General Assembly. The RFI deadline passed on 8 September, and the state transportation department is not allowed to issue a Request for Qualification for interested private investors until policymakers approve the plan.

Both the House and Senate have issued their respective resolutions, but they have not yet been adopted.

The I-55 project will allocate revenue risk to the private sector, which will collect tolls, “subject to revenue sharing”, IDOT said. It added a private activity bond allocation should be available to the project developer. 

An engineering and environmental study for the project found there would be “no significant impact” on the area extending from I-355 (Veterans Memorial Tollway) in the south-western Chicago metropolitan area to I-90/94 (Dan Ryan Expressway) servicing the Chicago business district. The Federal Highway Administration confirmed the result after conducting its own independent evaluation of the study and issued a Finding of No Significant impact on 20 July.

Interested developers will have eight to 10 weeks to respond after IDOT issues a RFQ. The transportation department plans to shortlist respondents in the first half of 2017 and select a developer by the first half of 2018.

IDOT may procure the project using the design-finance-operate-maintain model, or it said it could use other delivery methods. The project will build two express toll lanes in each direction within the existing I-55 median, while the existing three general purpose lanes in each direction will remain free of charge.