Innovative Infrastructure Delivery - Metropolitan Planning Council

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Innovative Infrastructure Delivery

Expanding options for infrastructure

John W. Iwanski

MPC and Chicago-area decision-makers are fundamentally rethinking how we invest in infrastructure, from deploying new financing tools to prioritizing regional investments and plans that will put us back on the path to growth.


Investing in infrastructure is critically important, not only to maintain safe and reliable roads, public transit, water mains and sewer lines, but also to expand the economy. Infrastructure is literally the backbone that supports thriving communities and companies.

The Chicago metropolitan region has come together to prioritize several urgent infrastructure improvements. Economic growth hinges on capital investments in Chicago’s Union Station, which serves 120,000 daily passengers and needs to be able to handle more. Growth depends on the pipes under our streets carrying—and not leaking—clean water to serve the 74 percent of Illinois' population living in greater Chicago.  Many suburbs are seeking financing for new developments to improve retail, reduce traffic and commute times, and attract new businesses.

Repairs and new capital investments—it’s not an “either-or” proposition. Pursuing both aggressively and with transparency is the ticket to economic growth. 


New types of financing and project delivery methods can open up opportunities.  From city and state transportation agencies to hundreds of municipalities, governments across the country are working to identify new, better and faster ways to deliver infrastructure projects to serve residents. The playing field is far from level—while some governments have the expertise to wade into new and complex financial transactions, many others are fiscally stressed and/or are still getting up to speed.

MPC is helping Chicago-area decision makers fundamentally rethink how to invest in infrastructure, deploy new financing tools when appropriate and stay committed as a region to priority investments and plans that will put us back on the path to growth.


MPC has studied the use of innovative financing tools on a number of regional projects, from Chicago Union Station to implementing projects identified in Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning's Metropolitan Transportation Plans.

Union Station

Union Station serves more passengers daily than Midway Airport, but the station has reached its passenger capacity limit. Without improvements to Union Station, the region stands to lose billions of dollars in potential economic development, particularly in the growing West Loop neighborhood. MPC is exploring value capture financing to help advance the Chicago Union Station Master Plan, which outlines a renovation strategy that would allow for projected ridership growth on both inter-city and commuter train lines; and transform the station into a vibrant destination and economic catalyst for West Loop, Chicago and the region. A similar overhaul of Washington D.C.'s Union Station had an estimated $14 billion economic impact. 

Variable priced parking in Wicker Park/Bucktown

As part of CMAP’s Local Technical Assistance program, and with input from local businesses and residents, MPC analyzed parking demand and pricing in Chicago’s Wicker Park/Bucktown neighborhood. MPC recommended variable pricing—by time of day and day of week—to achieve just the right number of available parking spots and, potentially, to generate additional revenue for pedestrian and transit improvements. These strategies also would encourage foot traffic and parking spot turnover—a spot-on solution for drivers, pedestrians, local businesses and the community.

Regional infrastructure investment

MPC is exploring how existing state and regional governments can work together more seamlessly to advance GO TO 2040, World Business Chicago's Plan for Economic Growth and Jobs and local development plans. Our goal is to identify new, better and faster ways to deliver infrastructure solutions in this region—and ultimately create a replicable standard for project delivery across the U.S.

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City of Chicago 
Chicago Dept. of Transportation 
Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning 
Chicago Transit Authority
Metropolitan Mayors Caucus

World Business Chicago
WPB (Wicker Park/Bucktown Special Service Area) 


Addressing Parking Challenges: Innovative Parking Solutions for a Vibrant Community—March 2015
Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning’s GO TO 2040 plan
World Business Chicago’s 
Plan for Economic Growth and Jobs

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