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Skyway Lease Finalized

By Rachelle Bowden in News on Oct 28, 2004 12:00PM

Chicago Skyway - Photo:great-lakes-hwys.orgThe city has finalized a $1.8 billion deal that gives a private group rights to run the Chicago Skyway for the next, not 100 but 99 years. Mayor Daley says the deal signed yesterday is a good move for everyone and says the city will use the cash to pay off existing Skyway debt and to invest of the future.

Under the deal, the city will turn the Skyway over to Spain's Cintra Macquarie Consortium within 90 days. The city will still police the Skyway and will also have to plow it in the winter but Cintra-Macquarie will do all the rest. The deal is the first privatization of an existing toll road in the US.

Here's the bummer - The deal allows the consortium to double tolls to $4 over the next decade. The first increase is expected in January and would raise the tolls to $2.50. Yeh, a good move for everyone. Thanks a bunch, Daley! But the good news is that the deal will give the city $1.82 billion cash up front. And the city really really needs it, since they're confronting a $220 million deficit in their 2005 budget.