Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and Indiana Governor Mike Pence met in Rosemont, Ill., on Monday and Tuesday to host a conference promoting a proposed 47-mile expressway linking the two states. The two governors say the expressway, which would link I-55 in Illinois to I-65 in Indiana, is critical to reducing congestion into Chicago and creating temporary and permanent jobs.
“This is a vital link,” Quinn told conference attendees on Monday. “It's about logistics. It's about distribution. It's about covering the Heartland.”
If built, the so-called “Illiana Expressway” would create 9,000 construction jobs and 25,000 permanent jobs, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT).
After decades of discussions between the two states, Quinn and then-Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels agreed to proceed with the project in 2010. On Monday, Pence, who became governor in 2013, reaffirmed Indiana's commitment to the project.
“Today, all roads lead to Illiana,” Pence said. “It's time to get this work moving. Let's get the Illiana done for all our people and for the United States. Illiana is central to putting the Midwest back at the very center of American prosperity.”
Both Illinois and Indiana have approved legislation that would allow private investors to fund construction of the expressway in exchange for all or a portion of tolls it would generate.
As planned, the expressway would extend between Wilmington in Illinois and Lowell in Indiana, and feature 11 interchanges, eight in Illinois and three in Indiana. Land acquisition would begin in 2015, followed by three years of construction.
IDOT estimates that about half of traffic on the expressway would be trucks.