RFQs for Illinois-Indiana ‘mega-project’ out

The 35-mile DBFOM Illiana concession is valued at $1bn and has RFQ deadlines of December and January for the respective states.

Illinois has released a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for its side of ‘Illiana,’ a toll road ‘mega-project’ with next-door neighbor Indiana that both states are procuring via their own public-private partnerships (PPPs; P3s).

The RFQ will vet possible private partners to design, build, finance, operate and maintain the 35-mile stretch of the corridor being built within Illinois state lines. The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) is procuring the P3, which is valued at $1 billion.

The deadline to respond to the mandate is Thursday, December 19. IDOT is planning to draw up a shortlist of qualified proposers in January.

A corresponding RFQ for the 12-mile Indiana portion of Illiana has also been published. The Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) and Indiana Finance Authority (IFA) are procuring the design, build, finance, operate and maintain (DBFOM) concession, said to be worth $270 million.

The cutoff date to respond to the Indiana RFQ is Friday, January 10. Both Illinois and Indiana are using an availability payment structure.

The origin of the Illiana project, also called the ‘Illiana Corridor’ or ‘Illiana Expressway,’ is tied to ‘Turn-of-the-Century America’: the ‘1909 Plan of Chicago’ which called for the creation of an “outer encircling highway”.

The current incarnation of Illiana took root in 2007. By 2010, both Illinois Governor Patrick Quinn and then-Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels signed off on enabling legislation that let each state pursue the project as a P3.

The project – a greenfield controlled access highway – would link up Interstate 55 (I-55) in Illinois with Interstate 65 (I-65) in Indiana. But Illiana has proven politically controversial.

The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) gave half-hearted consent to the project last month. Agency approval was required for Illiana to receive federal funding.