5 bid teams interested in building Illiana Expressway

2013-12-24T16:00:00Z 2013-12-25T15:22:04Z 5 bid teams interested in building Illiana ExpresswayBy Keith Benman keith.benman@nwi.com, (219) 933-3326 nwitimes.com

Five bid teams have responded to an Illinois Department of Transportation request for qualifications to design, build and operate that state's portion of the Illiana Expressway.

Some of the firms responding are already involved in public-private partnerships in the bi-state region, including the controlling partner and operator of the Indiana Toll Road and Chicago Skyway.

"We're very pleased with the level of interest in the procurement of the Illinois portion of the Illiana," said IDOT Secretary Ann Schneider. "These teams are comprised of firms who see this project as a worthwhile investment and a benefit for the regional economy."

The Illiana Expressway would run 47 miles from Interstate 65 just northeast of Lowell to Interstate 55, near Wilmington, Ill. It has a projected cost of $1.3 billion. It will be operated as a toll road.

The Indiana Department of Transportation issued a similar request for qualifications on Nov. 12 for the 12-mile Indiana portion of the expressway. Those responses are due back Jan. 10.

INDOT and IDOT both want the investment teams to defray the $1.3 billion cost of the expressway by providing some of the upfront money needed to get construction underway. In exchange, the departments of transportation in each state would provide a "milestone" payment to the investment team once construction reaches a certain point and then annual payments, known as availability payments, once the expressway is up and running.

Indiana currently is using availability payments to back the financing of the $763 million East End Crossing bridge over the Ohio River.

The responses IDOT has received to its request for qualifications will be whittled down to the three or four investment teams deemed most qualified. Those teams will then be invited to respond to a request for proposals. INDOT plans to employ a similar process.

It is thought the teams bidding on the Illinois portion of the expressway are also likely to bid on the Indiana portion, because there will be obvious cost efficiencies in designing, building and operating both portions of the road.

Among equity investors that are a part of the Illinois bid teams are Cintra Infraestructuras, S.A.; SNC-Lavalin Capital Inc.; and Walsh Investors LLC.

Cintra Infraestructuras and Australian investment house Macquarie in 2006 won the right to operate and collect tolls on the Indiana Toll Road in exchange for a $3.8 billion lump sum payment to the state. Previous to that, the same investment team won the concession for the Chicago Skyway.

SNC-Lavalin Capital Inc. had expressed interest in being a private partner in the building of an airport at Peotone, Ill., when former Democratic U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. was spearheading that drive.

Walsh Investors is a main partner in the East End Crossing Ohio river bridges project, which is being developed as a public-private partnership and is now under construction.

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