IBJNews

Transportation planning agency set to vote on Illiana tollway

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

The fate of a proposed $1.3 billion expressway being pushed by the governors of Illinois and Indiana could be determined Thursday by a planning agency that has criticized the project as an expensive boondoggle.

The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning's policy committee is scheduled to vote on including the so-called Illiana tollway linking Interstate 55 in Illinois and Interstate 65 in Indiana in its long-term development plan for the region, a step necessary for the project to receive federal funding.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence have pushed hard for a 47-mile link, promising it would help speed goods by truck, reduce congestion and create thousands of jobs. They also say private investors would be sought to pay most of the cost for building, operating and maintaining the road under a 35-year deal, with tolls repaying the debt.

But the planning agency's own analysis concluded that the route's traffic and tolls would fall short, leaving Illinois taxpayers on the hook for up to $1.1 billion. Its board of directors voted against the project last week, with the board chairman criticizing the project as "highway in nowhere land" and complaining that Quinn has unfairly pressured the board. But the agency's policy committee has the last word — and it has been lobbied hard by unions, business groups and elected officials who support the tollway.

What's more, the committee's chairwoman is Illinois Department of Transportation Director Ann Schneider, a gubernatorial appointee who touts the corridor as a smart investment that will encourage the expansion of intermodal freight facilities eager for a new route for trucks that are getting caught in existing congestion.

The project is necessary for Illinois' transport hubs to stay competitive with places such as Memphis, Tenn., and Columbus, Ohio, which are investing heavily in infrastructure to support intermodal shipping, Schneider told The Associated Press in an interview this week.

"We are definitely interested in making sure that we provide the necessary infrastructure to keep the economy moving forward," Schneider said Tuesday, adding that construction alone on the three- or four-year project would create 9,000 jobs in the state.

She also said the planning agency's projection that toll revenue would fall short was flawed, but that her department could not provide the agency with the financial data it needs for a full analysis because making those numbers public could jeopardize any future bidding process.

IDOT said it could take up to 18 years for the tolls to start generating a profit, but the state eventually could reap $300 million to $500 million that it could reinvest in other transportation projects. But the upfront public cost would be significant, perhaps as much as $500 million for land acquisition and other costs. The state has already spent $40 million studying the project, Schneider said.

Three environmental groups have filed a federal lawsuit over the project, claiming the Federal Highway Administration violated the law by approving an environmental study that failed to adequately assess potential impacts to endangered wildlife, critical habitat and other sensitive areas, and was based on inflated population and jobs projections. They also complain that the tollway, which would traverse rural areas and high-quality farmland, would lead to urban sprawl.

ADVERTISEMENT

  • Just trust IDOT...
    From the story: "She (IDOT Director Ann Schneider) also said the planning agency's projection that toll revenue would fall short was flawed, but that her department could not provide the agency with the financial data it needs for a full analysis because making those numbers public could jeopardize any future bidding process." - Their numbers are wrong, and ours are right, but ours are a secret, so you'll just have to trust us.
  • Question
    Is the intent to allow vehicles to bypass Gary/Hammond, and/or to serve as an opening leg of an outer loop around Chicago?

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. Socialized medicine works great for white people in Scandanavia. It works well in Costa Rica for a population that is partly white and partly mestizo. I don't really see Obamacare as something aimed against whites. I think that is a Republican canard designed to elicit support from white people for republican candidates who don't care about them any more than democrats care about the non-whites they pander to with their phony maneuvers. But what is different between Costa Rica nd the Scandanavian nations on one hand and the US on the other? SIZE. Maybe the US is just too damn big. Maybe it just needs to be divided into smaller self governing pieces like when the old Holy Roman Empire was dismantled. Maybe we are always trying the same set of solutions for different kinds of people as if we were all the same. Oh-- I know-- that is liberal dogma, that we are all the same. Which is the most idiotic American notion going right back to the propaganda of 1776. All men are different and their differences are myriad and that which is different is not equal. The state which pretends men are all the same is going to force men to be the same. That is what America does here, that is what we do in our stupid overseas wars, that is how we destroy true diversity and true difference, and we are all as different groups of folks, feeling the pains of how capitalism is grinding us down into equally insignificant proletarian microconsumers with no other identity whether we like it or not. And the Marxists had this much right about the War of Independence: it was fundamentally a war of capitalist against feudal systems. America has been about big money since day one and whatever gets in the way is crushed. Health care is just another market and Obamacare, to the extent that it Rationalizes and makes more uniform a market which should actually be really different in nature and delivery from place to place-- well that will serve the interests of the biggest capitalist stakeholders in health care which is not Walmart for Gosh Sakes it is the INSURANCE INDUSTRY. CUI BONO Obamacare? The insurance industry. So republicans drop the delusion pro capitalist scales from your eyes this has almost nothing to do with race or "socialism" it has to do mostly with what the INSURANCE INDUSTRY wants to have happen in order to make their lives and profits easier.

  2. Read the article - the reason they can't justify staying is they have too many medicare/medicaid patients and the re-imbursements for transporting these patient is so low.

  3. I would not vote for Bayh if he did run. I also wouldn't vote for Pence. My guess is that Bayh does not have the stomach to oppose persons on the far left or far right. Also, outside of capitalizing on his time as U. S. Senator (and his wife's time as a board member to several companies) I don't know if he is willing to fight for anything. If people who claim to be in the middle walk away from fights with the right and left wing, what are we left with? Extremes. It's probably best for Bayh if he does not have the stomach for the fight but the result is no middle ground.

  4. JK - I meant that the results don't ring true. I also questioned the 10-year-old study because so much in the "health care system" has changed since the study was made. Moreover, it was hard to get to any overall conclusion or observation with the article. But....don't be defensive given my comments; I still think you do the best job of any journalist in the area shedding light and insight on important health care issues.

  5. Probably a good idea he doesn't run. I for one do not want someone who lives in VIRGINIA to be the governor. He gave it some thought, but he likes Virginia too much. What a name I cannot say on this site! The way these people think and operate amuses me.

ADVERTISEMENT