An Illinois legislative panel this week opened up a process that could
lead to the state’s pay-as-you-go roads being put up for bid to private groups.
The General Assembly’s Commission on Government Forecasting and
Accountability voted Tuesday, April 4, to seek proposals from financial experts
to determine how much a lease of the 274-mile Illinois Tollway might earn the
The idea was first unveiled in January when state Sen. Jeff Schoenberg,
D-Evanston, said he would call on the bipartisan forecasting arm to see how
much the state could gain by leasing all or part of the tollway system.
Schoenberg pointed out that the 75-year lease of the Indiana Toll Road netted the Hoosier State $3.85 billion and the 99-year lease of the Chicago
Skyway brought in $1.83 billion. Both are now under the control of foreign
companies based in Spain and Australia. He said those dollar figures could
translate into a $14.6 billion price tag for the tollway.
“The Illinois Tollway is now more attractive than ever to investors,” Schoenberg, co-chairman of the commission, told chicagobusiness.com. The road system is “well-positioned to
bring Illinois to address some of its most critical needs,” including paying
pensions and pulling in federal road dollars.
Deputy Gov. Bradley Tusk recently said the governor has other
priorities at the toll highway authority, the Chicago
Tribune reported. Instead, Gov. Rod Blagojevich has his sights set
on providing open-road tolling and the extension of Interstate 335.
The legislative panel set a May 5 deadline for revenue projection bids, Reuters reported. Tentative plans
call for a winning bidder to be determined on May 15.