RFI will weigh ‘Illiana’ P3 credibility

The private sector is being asked to assess the P3 potential of a proposed road between Illinois and Indiana.

A fact-finding exercise to see if a possible road project between Illinois and Indiana would make a suitable public-private partnership (PPP; P3) kicked off today.

A request for information (RFI) to gauge private sector interest for the envisioned ‘Illiana Corridor’ has been posted here.

The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) and Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) is going to use the RFI to guide a coming industry forum for the project in June. The forum, according to each state agency, will include a “keynote address” featuring both Illinois Governor Pat Quinn and Indiana Governor Mike Pence.

Quinn, a Democrat, has cited the project for its potential for “putting people back to work,” while Republican Pence has called the undertaking a possible “example” for infrastructure.

The proposed 47-mile Illiana Corridor is an access-controlled road from Interstate 55 (I-55) in Illinois to Interstate 65 (I-65) that would in effect link suburban Chicago to northern Indiana and “reduce the strain of truck traffic” locally.

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) sanctioned a plan to insert an electronic toll route (ETR) from I-55 to I-65, enabling the two-year-old project to go forward as a P3.

Tolling “would be used to reimburse the investor over an agreed upon period,” IDOT and INDOT said.

The forum is anticipated to draw more than 1,000 people, according to Illinois and Indiana.

Like the $2.6 billion ‘Ohio River Bridges Project,’ the Illiana Corridor has been touted as a US ‘mega-project’ involving cross-state cooperation.

Neither Illinois nor Indiana is unfamiliar with toll road privatisation: the Chicago Skyway was leased to a consortium in 2005 while the Indiana Toll Road was leased in 2006.

In addition, Chicago has privatised its on-street and garage parking and has also re-initiated a plan to lease operation of its Midway International Airport.

Under Mitch Daniels, long-time governor and predecessor to Pence, Indiana emerged as a fervent proponent of privatisation.