Illinois-The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) is pushing for congestion pricing to ease Chicago’s traffic troubles. Highway gridlock is costing the city $7.3 billion a year in lost productivity and fuel. IDOT is considering an express lane on the Stevenson Expressway that would allow drivers to bypass traffic by paying a toll on an adjustable scale based on current demand and overall distance traveled.
The expressway would be a public-private partnership in which a developer would build, operate and maintain the lanes in exchange for tolls. While congestion pricing is a key part of Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning’s “Go to 2040” long-term planning strategy, the system could debut in a pilot capacity relatively soon. IDOT is hoping to study the concept by implementing a managed lane on Interstate 55 by as early as 2019.
Texas– The Capitol Complex Master Plan in Austin is taking place in three phases and will consolidate several state agencies within the 50-block Capitol Complex area. The state’s Partnership Advisory Commission recently signed off on the public-private partnership (P3) policy for the plan. The first phase is estimated to cost $581 million and will add about 1 million square feet of office space, a five-level underground parking garage and a grassy open-air mall on Congress Avenue between the north steps of the Texas Capitol and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
The Texas Facilities Commission has outlined two new office buildings in the project: a 14-story office tower with 600,000 square feet of office space and a 12-story, 400,000-square-foot building. Joint projects with private companies or a public entity will be vetted early through the city and state channels based on a value-for-money proposition. A developer would have to deliver a project that can be done better or more economically than the state. Revisions to the preliminary P3 policy are published on the Texas Facilities Commission website.
New Hampshire– Portions of the New Hampshire Turnpike system may soon be privatized. The state’s public-private partnership (P3) Infrastructure Oversight Committee have considered P3 plan for long-term concession agreements. The three highways chosen for the turnpike project were opened in the 1950s. The project includes developing and operating service plazas and rest areas with dining, fuel and retail concessions along the highways.
The P3 will allow for the sharing of resources to finance, design, build, operate and maintain transportation infrastructure projects. The plan was developed after Gov. Chris Sununu shared a proposal by the New Hampshire Department of Transportation to raise tolls on the turnpikes to accelerate completion of improvements to the roads.
New York– The city of New York has committed $1 billion to protect the nation’s largest municipal water system as part of a 115-page agreement with state health officials. Funding for the drinking water system will be used for programs that protect the one million acres of watershed. The biggest chunk, $200 million, will be used to maintain and upgrade dozens of wastewater treatment plants. Another $180 million will go toward reducing pollution from working farms and replacing old and dead forest trees with young saplings that collect nutrients from rain and snow that runs into the reservoirs. There will also be $150 million for shoring up eroding streams to improve water quality and supporting flood mitigation projects. In addition, $96 million has been allocated for preserving land from development and $85 million will be used to expand a program that repairs or replaces septic systems for homes and small businesses.
The new agreement is the result of more than six months of negotiations between city and state officials, along with input from environmental and public health advocates, and representatives of upstate residents near the reservoirs. The agreement also calls for an independent review of the city’s water protection efforts by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.