Up To Speed

Chicago’s infrastructure trust attempting to change the funding game

Chicago’s infrastructure trust attempting to change the funding game.

The Federal Government has failed to reform how it invests in its infrastructure, local governments are working hard to figure it out on their own. In Chicago this has led to the formation of what Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D) is calling the Chicago Infrastructure Trust. Emanuel hopes that the public-private partnership will eventually drive billions of dollars of new investment in the aging cities infrastructure. More from Next City:

Beyond financing public bridges and water systems, the trust must build another sort of infrastructure: That which supports public-private partnerships. In turning to collaborate with the private sector, Chicago has emulated policies more popular around the world than elsewhere in the U.S. Canada, Australia and many countries throughout Europe, including the United Kingdom, all have public-private partnerships that help to finance major capital projects.

But in the U.S., the concept is still in its infancy stage. Why the idea has yet to gain traction here has much to do with the reliance of local governments on direct assistance from Washington and tax-free public bonds. The need to be transformative is especially important in Chicago, which in recent years has ceded control of public assets such as its parking meters and tollways, only to face allegations that the sales benefitted companies — and former Mayor Richard Daley, who negotiated the deals — more than they benefited the public.

By Randy A. Simes

Randy is an award-winning urban planner who founded UrbanCincy in May 2007. He grew up on Cincinnati’s west side in Covedale, and graduated from the University of Cincinnati’s nationally acclaimed School of Planning in June 2009. In addition to maintaining ownership and serving as the managing editor for UrbanCincy, Randy has worked professionally as a planning consultant throughout the United States, Korea and the Middle East. After brief stints in Atlanta and Chicago, he currently lives in the Daechi neighborhood of Seoul’s Gangnam district.