Officials acknowledge that a possible lease of the Illinois
Tollway would not be as long-term as, say, the 99-year Chicago Skyway lease or
the 75-year lease for the Indiana Toll Road, but 20 years is still 20 years.
The state of Illinois intends to hire a firm to calculate
toll revenue and project how much money a lease could bring in for other state
projects. Early estimates put that number as high as $14.6 billion, according
to Sen. Jeff Schoenberg, D-Evanston, co-chairman of the Commission on
Government Forecasting and Accountability.
The eventual outcome could mean a private toll road.
Chicago Business quotes Schoenberg as saying a
privatized road system would help the state with needs like pensions and
leveraging transportation grants.
Some lawmakers want to exercise caution with the lease
State Sens. Peter Roskam, R-Wheaton, and Kirk Dillard,
R-Hinsdale, would like to see provisions like exempting I-PASS holders from
paying tolls on specific routes and requiring 66 percent of the lease price be
used in toll-road counties.
Annual DOT inspections and a provision not to allow the
private toll-road operator to make campaign contributions are also part of
bills some lawmakers are proposing.
– By David Tanner, staff writer