17
May

2012

Infrastructure Financing – Chicago Infrastructure Fund

Post by Nick Chu

Chicago is famous for a lot of things. Deep dish pizza, Michael Jordan, Barack Obama and CUP’s very own, Julia – just to name a few.

In terms of infrastructure construction, the city has also left its mark on the world with many impressive pieces of work. It boasts many accomplishments including: the first city to build a skyscraper; the world’s second busiest airport; the second oldest rapid transit system in the Americas and much more. However, like many large metropolitan cities in the US, the city has long been neglecting its infrastructure. While existing roads, buildings and bridges are all rapidly aging and crumbling, all levels of governments are unwilling to and/or incapable of investing more money into infrastructure.

For example in 2010, Chicago’s transit system had $7 billion in unfunded maintenance needs.

Despite being designed to run at 70 mph, some trains now must operate at 15 mph due to "fragile rails". Image by Flickr User ruffin_ready.

However, a ray of hope is now shining through. Under the leadership of the city’s mayor, Rahm Emanuel, a infrastructure finance instrument called the Chicago Infrastructure Trust (CIT) was recently developed and approved by council. With a fund of $7 billion, private investors will be able to submit proposals to the city. In turn, public officials will pick projects deemed the most worthy and match the private dollars offered.

Over the next years, other cities will be paying close attention to this financing tool. Undoubtedly, if proven successful, many officials will be eager to replicate and implement their own forms of the CIT in their city. Given the dearth of infrastructure investment in North America, this tool certainly looks promising and probably couldn’t have come at a better time.

For more information on CIT, please follow this link.



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