The Indiana DOT is getting closer to choosing a firm in August to study the feasibility and impact of a proposed toll road connecting Interstate 57 in Illinois with Interstate 65 in Indiana.
Gov. Mitch Daniels had previously proposed speeding up the preliminary work for the road dubbed the Illiana Expressway, but the Indiana General Assembly voted April 5 to slow the process down by authorizing the year-long feasibility study.
The Indiana Department of Transportation has received letters of interest from six firms wanting to perform the study, INDOT spokeswoman Shelley Haney told Land Line. The state earmarked up to $1 million for the study.
INDOT will narrow the field to a short list in mid-August. The names of the firms will not be made public before that, she said.
“From there, we’ll select a final candidate from the short list,” Haney said.
The legislation authorizing the study – formerly SB105 – requires that the chosen firm report back to INDOT by July 2009 on whether the road should be constructed with investment from the private sector, the costs involved, proposed toll rates, traffic projections, alternative routes and economic impact. The study must also show a proposed corridor.
The Indiana General Assembly voted in April 2006 to give Daniels the authority to build toll roads as part of the same legislation that authorized the lease of the Indiana Toll Road to private investors from Spain and Australia.
Shortly after that, Daniels began touting Indiana’s portion of the Illiana Expressway as a possible privatized toll road.
So far, officials in Illinois have been strongly in favor of the expressway, which would provide another east-west route in the busy bi-state corridor south of Lake Michigan.
Daniels had wanted construction to begin by 2009 or 2010, but the feasibility study and other factors outlined by the Indiana General Assembly have put a proposed construction date off by five years.
– By David Tanner, staff writer