Senators talk up benefits of Illiana Expressway

CHICAGO – U.S. Sens. Mark Kirk of Illinois and Dan Coats of Indiana are talking up the benefits of the proposed Illiana Expressway.

The 47-mile tollway would connect Interstate 65 in northwest Indiana with I-55 south of Chicago.

Kirk said the plan to build and run it in partnership with private investors should be a model for faster infrastructure development.

Coats said it would increase opportunities to ship goods made in Indiana.

Skeptics, including some Chicago metropolitan planners, said the road would have minimal impact on economic development and that toll revenue would fall short, leaving taxpayers on the hook.

The Illinois Department of Transportation estimates construction costs at $1.3 billion, with Illinois responsible for about $1 billion.

It’s been approved in Illinois. An Indiana planning agency will vote Thursday.