While Hoosier lawmakers spar over the potential pitfalls of privatizing
the Indiana Toll Road, an Illinois legislator said the time is ripe for his
home state to put its pay-as-you-go roads up for bid.
this week, gave
billions of good reasons to take a more
aggressive look at the potential for such an arrangement on our side of the
border,” State Sen. Jeff Schoenberg, D-Evanston, told The Times in northwest
On Monday, Jan. 23, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels announced that
Cintra-Macquarie, a Spanish-Australian consortium that runs the Chicago Skyway,
put in a $3.85 billion bid to take over the 157-mile toll route. The bid amount
would more than cover a $2.8 billion shortfall the state has for funding road
and bridge work throughout the state.
A similar shortfall of $3.2 billion is hindering Illinois Gov. Rod
Blagojevich’s effort to fund a program to build roads and schools.
In response, Schoenberg said Wednesday, Jan. 25, he would ask the
Illinois General Assembly’s bipartisan forecasting arm next week to crunch the
numbers to see how much money could be fetched to lease the 274-mile Illinois
Tollway. He is the Senate co-chairman of the group.
Deputy Gov. Bradley Tusk said the governor’s office hadn’t spoken with
Schoenberg about his plan, but Tusk said the governor has other priorities at
the toll highway authority, the Chicago Tribune reported. Instead, Blagojevich has his sights set on providing open-road tolling
and the extension of Interstate 335.
Meanwhile, the Indiana House is preparing for debate on leasing the
state’s toll road.