ROSEMONT (AP) — Governors from Illinois and Indiana hoped to attract potential contractors, laborers and investors for a planned 47-mile expressway aimed at relieving traffic congestion into the Chicago area through a two-day business forum starting Monday.
The proposed highway linking the two states has been discussed for decades and both states agreed to move forward in 2010. The proposed route will go from Interstate 55 near Willington, Ill., to Interstate 65 in Indiana. Land acquisition and construction could start in 2015 and construction for the project is expected to take about three years.
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence have both billed the so-called Illiana Expressway as a way to create jobs. Officials estimate the expressway will bring roughly 9,000 construction jobs and about 25,000 more permanent jobs.
"The Illiana is a key transportation priority for Illinois," Quinn said in a statement.
He and Pence were expected to open the forum later Monday in the Chicago suburb of Rosemont. Officials estimated up to 1,000 people would attend the forum, which would include meetings on the private-public partnership for the roughly $1.3 billion project.
The governors said it's also a way to stimulate economic growth.
"New opportunities in agriculture and manufacturing create additional needs in infrastructure," Pence said in a statement. "As global demand increases, so does the need for efficient transportation. Illiana will improve upon Indiana's transportation system and connect Indiana with the global marketplace."
Supporters, including the Midwest Truckers Association, have said the route is needed to increase access to the region. However, some opponents argue that the route will cut up farm land and affect wild life, among other things.