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updated: 10/15/2013 5:51 PM

IDOT leader defends Illiana Expressway project before vote

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Associated Press

Illinois' transportation secretary is defending the proposed $1.3 billion Illiana Expressway against criticism that it's a risky investment.

Ann Schneider tells The Associated Press Tuesday that over the course of the proposed 35-year partnership with a private investor, the tollway could generate up to $500 million in profit for Illinois. She says that would be reinvested in other projects.

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Besides an estimated 9,000 construction jobs, Schneider says the link between Indiana and Illinois could attract intermodal shipping facilities to rural Will County.

A vote Thursday by the region's planning agency will determine if the project moves ahead.

Illinois has already spent $40 million studying the project. Schneider says upfront costs could reach $300 million and it could take 18 years to break even.

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