The Metropolitan Planning Organization Policy Committee last night approved a proposal for a new $1.3 billion toll road between Illinois and Indiana, the Chicago Tribune reported.
The Illiana Expressway will be good for economic development and jobs in Illinois, according Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn. Proponents say constructing the highway would create 9,000 short-term jobs and thousands more in the future years.
Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann Schneider called the committee’s vote a good move but said there was still much work to be done in the next year to complete planning and start soliciting bids to construct and operate the new toll highway.
"This was just one step in the process, but it was a very big step," Schneider said.
The toll road as planned would connect I-55 at Wilmington in Will County, Ill., with I-65 near Lowell, Ind.
The plan approved by the committee was to develop the Illiana Expressway as a public-private partnership—Illinois’ first—with private investors building and operating the toll road. Schneider said if sufficient private funds could not be found, the expressway would not be built.