A legislative resolution was introduced this week that would allow the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) to pursue adding managed lanes to Interstate 55 under a private-public partnership, which the Rauner administration said will deliver project benefits more quickly and at a reduced cost.
“By using existing resources to leverage private investment, we can build the type of infrastructure that allows Illinois to better compete in the 21st century,” Gov. Rauner said. “This is an innovative project that will create jobs, improve the region’s quality of life and show that Illinois is open for business.”
The plan seeks to reduce congestion and increase convenience for motorists using an innovative approach. Similar proposals have been used successfully in other states, and could serve as a model for future improvements to Illinois’ extensive transportation infrastructure.
The I-55 managed lanes project would add at least one lane in each direction to a critical travel corridor between Interstate 355 (Veterans Memorial Tollway) and Interstate 90/94 (Dan Ryan Expressway). The 25-mile section accommodates 170,000 vehicles a day, but suffers from long, unreliable travel times, resulting in frustrating commutes for workers and increased costs for the delivery of goods and services.
“Relieving the congestion on this stretch of I-55 must be a priority for the state of Illinois,” said Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno. “However, we must also recognize the state must be creative in addressing our transportation challenges. This is an innovative approach that has been successful in other states and should be explored here.”
Options for the additional lanes currently being explored include tolled and untolled carpool lanes and express tolling lanes. The state will complete the federal environmental studies later this year to identify the preferred option.
Using a P3 on this project could save taxpayers an estimated $425 million in construction costs. Possible toll revenues from the project and P3 financing sources would be available to pay for construction, operation, and maintenance costs. Construction could start as early as next year and wrap up in 2019.