CHICAGO (CBS) — U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) and his counterpart from Indiana, U.S. Sen. Dan Coats (R-IN), urged more Illinois and Indiana residents to throw their support behind the controversial Illiana Expressway project.

WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports the proposed 47-mile tollway would link Interstate 55 in Illinois to Interstate 65 in Indiana.

Critics have said taxpayers could be stuck paying $1 billion to subsidize the expressway if it doesn’t generate enough toll revenue, but Coats said the project would be financed by a public-private partnership, not taxpayers.

“We’ve been very successful in Indiana at attracting that kind of support, and it is – as has been mentioned here – kind of the wave of the future. People are recognizing that the trust fund is flat. We don’t have the funding into the foreseeable future,” Coats said.

Backers of the project said potential investors already have made inquiries about the tollway.

Next week, the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission is set to vote on the project.

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