Planning for the so-called "Illiana Expressway" is
progressing, according to the Northwest Indiana Times.
Indiana and Illinois officials agreed two weeks ago that Indiana will take the lead in the initial corridor planning, the Times reported. Officials
from both states signed a "memorandum of understanding" and said that a
consulting firm will begin study in the spring of 2007. It is expected to take
two years to study the project and map out a route.
"A lot of discussion remains in planning the Illiana
Expressway, but reaching an agreement with Illinois is a positive development,"
Jamie Jorczakof the Indiana DOT's division of public-private partnerships told
The Expressway would connect Indiana's Interstate 65 with
Interstate 57 in Illinois.
Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels wants the project to be a
privately financed toll road, but Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich hasn't agreed
to such a deal.
Staff in Blagojevich's office declined to comment to the Times
on Daniels' privatization suggestion. However, Blagojevich has adamantly
opposed tolls for another bi-state project - a new Mississippi River bridge Illinois is negotiating with Missouri.