CHICAGO -- A controversial $1.3 billion toll road linking Indiana and Illinois advanced last week when an Indiana planning council approved the plan.

The Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission voted last Thursday to approve the 47-mile Illiana Corridor Project as part of its 2040 Comprehensive Regional Plan.

The vote, following approval by a similar board in Illinois, means the proposal can now go before the federal government for approval.

The states intend to pursue public-private partnerships to fund the road. Indiana has used a P3 model on several projects, but it would mark a first for Illinois.

The planning board votes are victories for Indiana Gov. Mike Pence and Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, who are top supporters.

"I believe roads mean jobs, and today's vote on the Illiana Corridor Project brings us one step closer to more jobs for northwestern Indiana," Pence said in a statement issued after the vote. "The innovative funding for this project will bring new investment dollars into the state transportation system and allow the Indiana Department of Transportation to make further infrastructure investments that will benefit the region for generations to come."

The project, however, has drawn criticism from other high-profile Illinois officials, including Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

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