Doug Ross's editorial stated that "the $1 billion to be spent on this project would come from private dollars, not tax money."
That prompts the question of whether Indiana and Illinois taxpayers really look like we were born yesterday.
Private investors put their money into projects from which they can reasonably expect net returns. Every set of outside experts that has looked at the Illiana Expressway plan has concluded that it would cost far more than what is being quoted and would not attract huge usage -- even if it was a freeway.
Private investors would require it to be a tollway so that they can be paid back, in which case it beggars belief to think that lots of truckers would divert from the free I-80 to use the less convenient and not free Illiana. And do we really think that private investors would not hire their own expert analysts and come to the same blindingly obvious conclusions?
The only way private investors will be persuaded to put their money into this turkey is with government guarantees of those bonds. When the project's actual numbers predictably turn out far different from the current claims, those guarantees will be called upon. So the only way the Illiana Expressway will ever get built is with taxpayer dollars one way or another.
- Paul Botts, Chicago