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Illiana Expressway plan moves forward

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Joined by Indiana's Gov. Mitch Daniels, Ill. Gov. Pat Quinn signed a bill that pushes forward a plan to build a new east-west connection between northeast Illinois and northwest Indiana.

The so-called Illiana Expressway would connect I-55 in Illinois with I-65 in Indiana.

The multi-billion dollar toll road to be co-owned by the states would be financed with private dollars. Its supporters say it would take 4,300 construction workers at least two years to build it and the business it would generate would create nearly 14,000 long term jobs.

This afternoon, the governors of both states signed the enabling legislation putting aside politics to do so.

Governors Daniels and Quinn signed the memorandum of understanding in a hangar at the Lansing municipal airport. It is not far from where the governors hope a 56 miles long expressway will be built running east and west connecting I-65 in Indiana to I-55 in Illinois.

As hundreds of politicians and union members looked on...it was the ultimate picture of bi-partisanship.

"We are partners. We work together with our friends in Indiana. They are our allies. The public interest does not recognize state lines. The public interest does not recognize party lines," said Quinn.

The leaders and members of unions, hard hit by recession related slowdowns in the construction industry, hope the design work land purchases happen quickly enough...to begin moving earth in a couple of years.

"It will be an economic engine in the south suburbs that is desperately needed," said Jim Sweeney, Local 150 Operating Engineers. "We're feeding 1,200 members a month at our food bank."

To meet and praise the Republican Daniels was an awkward moment for the Democrat Quinn. Daniel's Republican governor's association is spending $400,000 on TV ads on behalf of Illinois Republican senator Bill Brady, linking Quinn to Rod Blagojevich.

"I think everybody knows that I've stood for integrity my whole life. I understand the importance of ethics in government. Illinois has an honest governor committed to in government and committed to jobs," said Quinn.

Daniels, who is being urged by some in his party to run for president in 2012, said he had not seen the anti-Quinn ads.

"Once in office, we work for everybody, and a project like this one, an opportunity like this one is something that we ought to all be able to set the intramurals aside for," said Daniels.

It has not been determined where the Illiana toll road would run between the interstate highways. The map used in our graphic is no better or worse than any other at this point.

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