Unpublished Comment to NIRPC on Illiana

Frank Manzo IV is the Policy Director of the Illinois Economic Policy Institute (ILEPI). Visit ILEPI at www.illinoisepi.org or follow ILEPI on Twitter @illinoisEPI.

The Northwest Indiana Regional Planning Commission (NIRPC) was accepting public comments on whether to add the Illiana Expressway to its 2040 Comprehensive Regional Plan, which would allow the public-private infrastructure project to proceed to the bidding process for the private sector to determine whether the road is a good idea. ILEPI has found that the project will create substantial benefits. We provided our comments to NIRPC in two back-to-back emails on November 19, one as an addendum to the other. However, NIRPC failed to provide our insights in its review of comments during that period. The positive, job creation and economic development benefits of the expressway must be known. I have thus copied our comments to NIRPC and pasted them below. Additionally, ILEPI previously debunked 10 myths about the Illiana Expressway here.

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Northwest Indiana Regional Planning Commission, 6100 Southport Road Portage, IN 46368

ATTN: 2040 Comprehensive Regional Plan and the Illiana Project

To NIRPC Staff and Board:

The Illinois Economic Policy Institute (ILEPI) is a new, independent, nonpartisan policy institute focused on high-road economic development. We specialize in public policies and projects which affect the construction industry in Illinois and the Midwest region. ILEPI would like to forward our Indiana-specific analysis of the economic benefits of constructing the Illiana Expressway to the state, and express support for this project. Please see our attached report or click here.

The Illiana Expressway should be added to NIRPC’s 2040 plan, constructed in addition to other essential and planned projects. Both the short-run and long-run economic benefits of the expressway necessitate completion of the project, especially given the private-sector willingness to invest in the toll road and partner with the government to put residents of both Indiana and Illinois back to work.

In the short run (2015-2018), the Illiana Expressway will:

  • directly employ 2,259 construction workers (9,036 job-years) including 571 construction workers (2,284 job-years) in Indiana,
  • stimulate 1,523 additional jobs in the region (6,092 job-years) including 526 jobs (2,104 job-years) in Indiana,
  • add $667 million to the Indiana economy,
  • generate $13.1 million in state and local tax revenue per year, and
  • reduce travel time, miles, and congestion.

In the long run, the Illiana Expressway will:

  • spur economic development ($3.87 billion to Indiana and Illinois),
  • create 1,000 to 7,000 jobs in Indiana,
  • connect labor to employment opportunities,
  • support the region’s growing population,
  • lower automobile pollution in the area, and
  • serve as a new model of multi-state infrastructure investment for the nation.

Additionally, NIRPC’s “Congestion Management Process, Results and Analysis” report on the Illiana found that the project would reduce traffic on all other east-west roads (I-80/I-94, US-30, US-231, and SR-2) by as much as 5.7 percent and reduce truck traffic by 20-35 percent.

Finally, the Illiana project is backed by tremendous support. Illinois has already approved the project, with support from diverse organizations such as the statewide AFL-CIO, statewide and regional Chambers of Commerce, and two universities. Countless local officials, U.S. Senator Kirk (R-IL), U.S. Senator Coats (R-IN), Governor Quinn (D-IL), and Governor Pence (R-IN) are all in favor of the project. The private sector is willing to invest in the project; workers are ready to work on the project.

The Illiana Expressway puts residents back to work in high-road jobs with good pay (over $60,000 in total compensation per job), promotes accountable economic development, and supports the region’s future population. The enduring benefits of the Illiana Expressway to workers, businesses, and families greatly outweigh its upfront costs. The Illiana Expressway should be constructed.

Thank you for this opportunity to comment on this important project.

Sincerely,

Frank Manzo IV, M.P.P.

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Northwest Indiana Regional Planning Commission, 6100 Southport Road Portage, IN 46368

ATTN: 2040 Comprehensive Regional Plan and the Illiana Project

To NIRPC Staff and Board:

As an addendum to the previous email, regarding the tremendous support for the Illiana: The Illinois Economic Policy Institute (ILEPI) would also like to notify NIRPC that The Times of Northwest Indiana conducted an unscientific online poll on whether the Illiana Expressway should be built. As of 3:00pm CT on 11/18/2013, the results of that poll were 486 yes (69.9%) and 209 no (30.1%). A snapshot of these results is attached, and an up-to-date link can be found here. While this is just an online poll, the votes are at least suggestive of overall public support for the project.

I again appreciate the opportunity to comment on this important project for both Indiana and Illinois.

Frank Manzo IV, M.P.P.

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