The Elgin-O’Hare Express, West Loop Transportation Center, a bus rapid transit corridor, the CTA Red Line extension, and on and on: These projects represent just a sliver of the billions of dollars in transportation projects Illinois has put on the back burner because funds for building new infrastructure projects are simply not available. While demand for new and better roads and improved transit continue to grow, state motor fuel tax revenues have not kept up with inflation. And even if Congress authorizes new dollars for surface transportation projects, the amount surely will not cover metropolitan Chicago’s existing transportation needs, much less provide funding for major new projects.
With this in mind, for the last five years the Metropolitan Planning Council and our partners have been working on legislation that would allow the State of Illinois to consider partnering with the private sector to build new infrastructure and join the 30 other states that already do. Earlier this year, through public-private partnership (PPP) financing, the Texas Dept. of Transportation built a $2.5 billion expressway project in Fort Worth at just a $573 million cost to taxpayers, and Denver opened a transit line for $300 million less than originally projected. Both projects were top priorities for the local public; will get people where they need to go faster; will create hundreds of jobs – and neither would have happened with public funds alone.
So we are thrilled to report that the Public-Private Partnerships for Transportation Act has passed the Illinois General Assembly and will soon land on Gov. Quinn's desk! Illinois House Bill 1091 (sponsored by Rep. Elaine Nekritz (D-Des Plaines) and Sen. Heather Steans (D-Chicago)) would enable state transportation agencies to join a growing number of states who have the option of using PPPs to finance new infrastructure.
PPPs are binding agreements between public and private parties that allow a private entity to assume significant control of, and risk for, multiple elements of an infrastructure project. While at least 30 states, including Indiana, have passed legislation enabling PPPs for designated projects, Illinois does not have enabling legislation. (Mayor Daley was able to pursue PPPs under Chicago's home rule authority, but the Illinois Dept. of Transportation (IDOT) and Illinois State Toll Highway Authority (ISTHA) today could not.) By advocating for PPPs, particularly for new public assets such as enhanced transit, MPC is working to keep Illinois competitive: PPPs can offer considerable cost savings and shortened delivery time, while effectively allocating risk to the private sector.
The Public-Private Partnerships for Transportation Act will promote the sound development and operation of transportation facilities in Illinois, by authorizing PPPs for the construction of new transportation infrastructure projects and limiting the lease of existing infrastructure assets. Authorizing PPPs will allow Illinois to seek new sources of investment capital and more efficiently deliver infrastructure improvements, to improve our transportation system to better serve the needs of Illinois residents and businesses.
What does the PPP Act do?
- The Illinois General Assembly must approve all potential PPP projects prior to issuing RFQs or RFPs.
- All projects considered for PPPs must be consistent with the corresponding region’s plan, provided the region has a Metropolitan Planning Organization.
- The Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability will conduct an independent review of all project proposals prior to final approval of a PPP to ensure it serves the public’s interest.
- Existing assets of the tollway cannot be leased for monetary gain.
- In cases where the project pertains to an existing transportation facility, the contractor will adhere to all existing employee contracts and obligations.
We’d like to thank the many supporters of HB 1091, including:
American Council of Engineering Companies of Illinois
Chicago Area LECET
Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce
Chicago & Cook County Building & Construction Trades Council
Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning
Construction & General Laborers’ District Council of Chicago & Vicinity
DuPage County Building & Construction Trades Council
Fox Valley Building & Construction Trades Council
Illinois State Chamber of Commerce
International Union of Operating Engineers: Local 150
Lake County Building & Construction Trades Council
Lake County Municipal Conference
Metropolitan Planning Council
Metro West Council of Government
South Suburban Mayors and Managers Association
Southwest Conference of Mayors
Transportation for Illinois Coalition
United Transportation Union
West Central Municipal Conference
Will County Center for Economic Development
Will County Governmental League
Will & Grundy Building & Construction Trades Council