Indiana kicks off investor search for Illiana Expressway

2013-11-12T18:00:00Z 2013-12-09T10:51:25Z Indiana kicks off investor search for Illiana ExpresswayBy Keith Benman, (219) 933-3326

The state of Indiana on Tuesday issued a call for investors for its 12-mile portion of the Illiana Expressway, following a similar call Friday by Illinois for its 35-mile portion of the toll road.

The request for qualifications issued by the Indiana Department of Transportation and the Indiana Finance Authority on Tuesday also includes as part of the project the widening of Interstate 65 between U.S. 30 and Ind. 2.

However, there are no plans to add tolls to that portion of I-65, according to INDOT spokesman Jim Pinkerton.

Although tolls will be used to pay for the building and upkeep of the Illiana Expressway, the I-65 widening would be funded by traditional state and federal appropriations, Pinkerton stated.

But INDOT wants whoever builds the Illiana Expressway to also undertake the I-65 widening, Pinkerton stated.

In other respects, the Indiana request parallels the one issued by the Illinois Department of Transportation for the Illinois portion of the Illiana Expressway last week.

"We have had great success in Indiana with the innovation and cost savings that the private sector has brought to other P3 (public-private partnership) projects," Jim Stark, INDOT Deputy Commissioner of Innovative Project Delivery, said in a statement Tuesday. "We're anticipating similar successes with the Illiana Corridor."

The Illiana Expressway would run from I-65 just northeast of Lowell to Interstate 55, near Wilmington, Ill. The Indiana and Illinois portions combined have an estimated $1.3 billion price tag.

INDOT and the Indiana Finance Authority want proposals from investors for financing the road through availability payments.

Under such a plan, investors would provide much of the upfront financing for the expressway's construction. The state would then make annual payments to the investors once the expressway is open in order to keep it "available" for motorists.

Investors have until Jan. 10 to respond to the request for qualifications. INDOT and the Indiana Finance Authority will then develop a "short-list" of three or four finalists by Feb. 19. INDOT and the Indiana Finance Authority will then issue a final request for proposals in May. They want to conclude a deal by November 2014.

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