Updated: April 19, 2014 6:25AM
The eventual developer of the Illiana Expressway could see up to a 20 percent cost savings on the project if a low-interest federal loan is obtained for the project, transportation officials announced Monday.
The 47-mile highway would connect Interstate 55 near Wilmington to I-65 near Lowell, Ind., and would be built through a private-public partnership as a tollway to pay off the debt incurred for the estimated $1.5 billion project. The loan could cover up to a third of the total cost of the project, officials said.
“(The tollway) will benefit the entire region by alleviating traffic on I-80 and other roads,” said Guy Tridgell, spokesman for the Illinois Department of Transportation. “It’s also a job creator for the region.”
The announcement of a possible federal loan being obtained for the project could help make the proposed partnership more attainable, according to IDOT.
“Receiving the green light to proceed with an application for (federal) funding is just more proof that the widespread support for our innovative public-private partnership continues to build,” Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann Schneider said in a statement.
Tridgell said IDOT could learn with a couple of months if the loan application is approved.
Tridgell said a developer has not yet been selected, but construction is slated to begin next year with completion scheduled for 2018.
IDOT has estimated that the proposed tollway could create more than 13,000 short-term construction jobs and increase long-term economic output in the region by $3.7 billion.