Opponents of the Illiana Expressway are seeing hopeful signs in a couple of the governor’s actions. This is supposed to be a 50-mile toll road, mainly for trucks, connecting I-55 near Wilmington to I-65 in Indiana. The governor has placed it on hold – suspending all interstate construction projects until their costs and benefits can be reviewed – and that pleases Abe Scarr of the Illinois Public Interest Research Group, even though he’s not sure what the governor’s view this particular project really is.
“On the campaign trail, he did a pretty good job of not taking a position on this. He said something to the effect that it could be a good economic driver for the region, but also that we had to make sure that taxpayers’ dollars would be spent wisely, and I think that’s his biggest concern here,” he said.
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It’s meant to be a public-private partnership, with toll revenue covering much of the cost, but Scarr says if traffic projections don’t pan out – he believes they’re optimistic – the taxpayers’ cost would be $700 million to $1.3 billion.
Scarr says he’s also encouraged by the appointment of Randy Blankenhorn to be secretary of IDOT. He was previously the head of the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, which opposed the Illiana Expressway.