The proposed Illiana expressway could end up being underused and overpriced, according to a new report. The toll road that would connect I-55 in Illinois with I-65 in Indiana is included in a list of potential highway “boondoggles” by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group. Abe Scarr, director of Illinois PIRG, says the need for the highway is based on outdated statistics.
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“For years, planners could assume that driving would just increase in coming years and upcoming decades, and for the most part, be right,” Scarr said, “but that trend stopped a decade ago.” The report says even under the public-private partnership plan to build the highway, the state could be on the hook for up to $1.3 billion of its construction cost. Scarr argues that money would be better spent on improving existing infrastructure, such as some of the more than 2,000 bridges classified as “structurally deficient” in Illinois.
Gov. Pat Quinn and the Illinois Department of Transportation have been proponents of the project. The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning will consider a revised long-term construction plan that includes the Illiana next month.