Indiana Governor signs PPP bill into law

The state now has the legal authority to pursue public-private partnerships for the so-called ‘Illiana’ toll road into Illinois and two bridges over the Ohio River. All together, the projects are estimated to cost as much as $5bn.

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels signed a bill into law yesterday that will allow the state to pursue public-private partnerships for a new toll road and two bridges over the Ohio River. The projects could be worth $5 billion and create tens of thousands of jobs in the Midwest state.

“It’s a very creative, very forward-thinking, innovative way to build infrastructure at a time when no one is able to build infrastructure because they just don’t have the money,” said Republican State Senator Ed Charbonneau, the bill’s principal sponsor

Ed Chabonneau

Charbonneau’s bill authorises the state to pursue a public-private partnership (PPP) to build a toll road linking Northwest Indiana with southern Chicago suburbs in neighbouring Illinois. The so-called “Illiana Expressway”, aimed at relieving truck traffic congestion on existing roads, is estimated to cost up to $1 billion, according to Charbonneau.

Illinois still has to come up with its own funding source for its side of the Illiana. But a bill authorising PPPs is already moving through the legislature and could enable the whole project to move forward with the aid of private investment.

“How Illinois goes about it is certainly their business, but they’re looking at doing it the same way we are, potentially,” Charbonneau said, adding that Governor Daniels has already begun discussions with Illinois Governor Patt Quinn on this subject.

The bill also authorises PPPs for bridges over the Ohio River in southern Indiana that would link the state with neighbouring Kentucky. Cost estimates for two such bridges being considered range up to $4 billion, according to Charbonneau.

All together, Charbonneau said the PPPs, if pursued, could create 50,000 jobs in Indiana. He believes that’s just the minimum, though.

“The numbers are so big that I just stop using them because people wouldn’t believe them,” he said.