U.S. Sen. Mark S. Kirk (R-Ill.) is against one proposed state project that would require $100 million in public funds, but favors another that would cost more. That other project is the proposed Illiana expressway, linking I-55 near Wilmington to I-65 in Indiana. An agreement between the transportation departments of both states has Illinois pitching in at least $250 million for its half of the project. Kirk believes it’s worth the investment because of projected population growth in that area.
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“Remember the borrowing for Illiana is separate against the revenue stream from the toll revenue,” Kirk said. “Everybody’s going to look at the roads available to them and they will definitely pay the toll. So I would say the internal economics of that project is very bankable.” The $250 million price tag for the Illiana is supposed to cover a quarter of the construction costs, with the rest coming from a private partner selected by the state that will operate and maintain the toll road. The state is set to pick a bidder later this year, with the goal to open the expressway by the end of 2018.
That’s in contrast to appropriating $100 million for the construction of the Obama presidential library, money Kirk says the state can’t afford to spend.