(STMW) — An agreement between the Illinois and Indiana transportation departments aimed at building a toll road linking highways in both states calls for Illinois to spend at least $250 million on its half of the project.
The public-private development would fund the proposed Illiana toll road, a 47-mile east-west road connecting Interstate 55 near Wilmington, Ill., and Interstate 65 near Lowell, Ind.
“This agreement solidifies the partnership and our commitment to the success of this project,” Illinois Secretary of Transportation Ann L. Schneider said in a statement released Tuesday.
The “Illiana Corridor Project” is projected to create 13,000 construction jobs, according to a news release from the Indiana Department of Transportation.
The agreement calls for the two states to give their “best effort” to make it ready for traffic by Dec. 31, 2018.
“IDOT appears to be committing the money, even though the Illinois General Assembly hasn’t specifically approved an appropriation,” said Howard Learner, executive director of the Environmental Law and Policy Center, which has filed a lawsuit to try to block the toll road.
“Why is IDOT wasting taxpayer money to subsidize private developers who are building this unneeded road to nowhere that will have far less traffic use than other major expressways such as the Dan Ryan or the Stevenson or the Kennedy?” Learner said Tuesday night.
Will County Board member Judy Ogalla (R-Monee) echoed the budgetary concerns.
“I don’t know if the state has money to appropriate this,” she said. “I don’t think the state has enough money to fix existing infrastructure, and now they are looking to make a new state road . . . It just seems like it’s a power play to the unions promising jobs, and in the process we loose sustainable agricultural jobs because the road would be going through people’s farms.”