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A new privatized toll road proposed primarily to speed freight trucks across the Midwest may instead charge tolls too high to attract trucks, and will likely require hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies.
— From "Highway Boondoggles: Wasted Money and America's Transportation Future," by the Illinois PIRG Education Fund
Yes, that's the Illiana Expressway, one of 11 questionable projects nationwide to earn a spot on the U.S. Public Interest Research Group's just-released "boondoggle" list.
A year ago, against all reason, Gov. Pat Quinn rammed through a plan to build this unnecessary and unaffordable toll road, 10 miles south of metro Chicago's urban edge.
Eager to score points with Southland voters, Quinn ignored regional planners' warnings that the Illiana wouldn't generate enough traffic (read: tolls) to pay for itself.
He shrugged off a report by the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning staff that said taxpayers would end up subsidizing the Illiana by up to $1.1 billion over 35 years.
Based on that report, the CMAP board voted last October not to add the Illiana to its shortlist of projects vying for federal transportation dollars. But it was overruled by the Metropolitan Planning Organization Policy Committee, chaired by Quinn's secretary of transportation.
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