IDOT announces Illiana Expressway finalists

2014-01-17T07:00:00Z 2014-01-17T18:04:09Z IDOT announces Illiana Expressway finalistsBy Keith Benman, (219) 933-3326

The Illinois Department of Transportation has chosen four investment teams as finalists to make final bids to design, build and operate the Illinois portion of the Illiana Expressway.

Just one investment team, headed by SNC-Lavalin Capital Inc. and calling itself Illiana Open Road Innovators, was eliminated from the list of five that replied to IDOT's request for qualifications last month.

The other four will now be able to respond to a request for proposals that IDOT is expected to issue in the coming months.

Those four are Illiana West Mobility Partners headed by Cintra Infraestructuras S.A.; Illinois Corridor Connection Group headed by ACS Infrastructure Development Inc. and Fengate Capital Management Ltd.; Illinois Mobility Partners headed by Fluor Enterprises Inc. and Plenary Group USA Ltd.; and WM Illinois - Illiana Partners LLC headed by Meridiam Infrastructure Illiana IL LLC and Walsh Investors LLC.

“The Illiana is a wonderful opportunity for contractors and the State of Illinois to develop a public-private partnership that will bring jobs to Illinois, boost the regional economy and save time and money for taxpayers,” said IDOT Secretary Ann Schneider.

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 Finance Authority and Indiana Department of Transportation issued a request for qualifications similar to IDOT's on Nov. 12 for the 12-mile Indiana portion of the expressway. Indiana received six responses on Jan. 10, with five of those submitted by bid teams that had already responded to the Illinois request.

The IFA and INDOT also plan to whittle down that list and announce finalists who can bid on building the Indiana portion of the Illiana Expressway as a public-private partnership as well as widening a section of Interstate 65 as a traditional public works project.

INDOT and IDOT both want the winning 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.

One of the bidders that made it to the final round in Illinois, Cintra Infraestructuras S.A., already is well known in the region as the controlling partner and operator of the Indiana Toll Road.

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.

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