Illinois, Indiana ready to procure ‘Illiana’ toll road

Both governors have now signed legislation into law that allows them to pursue a PPP to build a toll road linking the two states. Illinois and Indiana will ‘investigate all options available’ to finance the PPP.

Illinois Governor Patrick Quinn has signed into law legislation that will allow the state to pursue a public-private partnership to develop a toll road between Illinois and Indiana.

His signature on the measure, delivered last week at a ceremony with Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, gives the finishing touch to the final piece of legislative business that had to occur before the two states can begin to procure the inter-state public-private partnership. It also caps a series of dialogues between the two Governors, which are now enshrined in a memorandum of understanding.

“I went to the National Governors Association, I sat right next to Mitch Daniels and we were talking about this very project: how to put it together,” Quinn said at the bill-signing ceremony.

At the ceremony, the two governors also signed a memorandum of understanding which explicitly allows the two states to begin the “preliminary engineering, modeling, forecasting, planning and permitting” for the so-called “Illiana Expressway,” which will link Northwest Indiana with southern Chicago suburbs in Illinois.

The memorandum also authorises Illinois and Indiana to “investigate all options available to finance the Illiana Expressway as a public private partnership”.

Earlier this year, each of the two states passed a law enabling the public-private partnership to go forward. Indiana passed its bill in February and in March Governor Daniels signed it into law. Illinois passed its legislation in May with strong support from organised labour, including the powerful Chicago Federation of Labor.

Daniels, a strong supporter of public-private partnerships, used the bill signing occasion to trumpet the accomplishments of his state’s infrastructure building effort, which is being bankrolled in part via proceeds the state received from its 2006 lease of the Indiana Toll Road for $3.8 billion.

“Among those things that government can do to help foster the growth of a strong and vibrant private economy, nothing comes ahead of building great infrastructure,” Daniels said. “We are in the middle of the biggest building boom in our state’s history, breaking records every year for investment.”

“Let’s all just work as hard as we’ve done up to this point to speed this process along, whatever it takes, and make that road real,” he added, referring to the Illiana Expressway.