Construction of a western bypass expressway around O’Hare International Airport would create at least 78,000 jobs and strengthen the regional economy, but financing the $3 billion project likely would have to come from tolls, according to an advisory council report announced by Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn last week.
“This report will be extremely helpful as we move forward with the Elgin-O’Hare West Bypass, which is a priority of my administration,” Quinn said in a statement. “This important project will create thousands of jobs and serve as a major economic engine for northeastern Illinois.”
Quinn established the council last fall to assist in the planning for extending the Elgin-O’Hare Expressway east and building the west bypass around O’Hare International Airport.
The report suggests that the Illinois Department of Transportation and the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority consider tolling and public-private partnerships to finance the project — currently in the environmental and engineering review stages — that carries a total price tag of $3.6 billion.
The initial $2.2 billion phase could begin as soon as 2013. It’s unclear whether a system-wide toll increase, or a more limited one, would be implemented.