Thursday, November 30, 2017

Chicago issues RFQ for O’Hare Express Service

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Mayor Emanuel speaks at an event announcing the issuance of an RFQ for O’Hare Express Service. Mayor Emanuel speaks at an event announcing the issuance of an RFQ for O’Hare Express Service. The office of the mayor of Chicago

The city of Chicago is moving ahead with a plan to offer express train service between the Loop and O'Hare International Airport (ORD).


The city, in coordination the Chicago Infrastructure Trust (CIT), issued a Request for Qualifications to design, build, finance, operate and maintain an O'Hare Express operating system through a public-private agreement with the city.

The city says the express service should take 20 minutes or less to travel between downtown Chicago to O'Hare, which represents a 50-percent reduction in current travel times on the Chicago Transit Authority Blue Line.

"Express service to and from O'Hare will give Chicagoans and visitors to our great city more options, faster travel times and build on Chicago's competitive advantage as a global hub of tourism, transportation and trade," said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. "More than a century ago, Daniel Burnham encouraged Chicago to 'make no little plans' and today, Chicagoans continue to make big and bold plans with an eye towards the future. Strengthening connections between the economic engines of downtown Chicago and O'Hare airport, at no cost to taxpayers, will build on Chicago's legacy of innovation and pay dividends for generations to come."

The RFQ specifies that the O'Hare Express Service should include a downtown station, an ORD station and one maintenance facility. The city and CIT will consider potential corridors that are above or below surface level.

While the RFQ does not include cost estimates, earlier reports on the project suggest a range of between $1 billion and $3 billion. The city said the project would be financed solely by project-specific revenues with zero taxpayer funding available for the project.

At least one company, Elon Musk's The Boring Company, has expressed interest in submitting an application for the RFQ.

In a tweet Nov. 29, Musk said, "The Boring Company will compete to fund, build & operate a high-speed Loop connecting Chicago O'Hare Airport to downtown."

Mayor Emanuel confirmed earlier this summer that city representatives had visited with executives at The Boring Company to discuss a tunnel option for the O'Hare Express Service.