Two companies selected to bid on O'Hare express project

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USA: City of Chicago has announced the selection of two teams to proceed with competing to design, build, finance, operate and maintain the O'Hare Express rail link.

The Boring Company and O’Hare Xpress LLC are now eligible to respond to a Request for Proposals (RFP). The project aims to deliver express service from downtown Chicago to O’Hare International Airport (ORD) in 20 minutes or less, cutting more than 50 percent off current travel times.

“Strengthening connections between Chicago’s economic engines will drive our economy into the future, build on the city’s legacy of innovation and pay dividends for generations to come," Mayor Emanuel said. “Today, we have two teams that have the ability to get the job done and create an express connection between downtown Chicago and O’Hare Airport without a taxpayer subsidy."

The Chicago Infrastructure Trust, on behalf of the City of Chicago, selected the two respondents to proceed to the next phase of the procurement process based on their qualifications and ability to deliver the critical project with no public subsidy. The Boring Company and O’Hare Xpress LLC (Meridiam, Antarctica Capital, JLC Infrastructure, Mott MacDonald and First Transit) are two of the four entities that responded to a Request for Qualification (RFQ) that was issued late last year. Responses to the RFP will be due on May 18, 2018.

“Of the submissions received, these two teams represent the best potential partners to deliver this express service, which will be a key part of Chicago’s continued economic growth,” Chicago Treasurer and CIT Chair Kurt Summers said. “The CIT’s role as a specialized resource to the City focused on infrastructure financing and development involvement makes it the clear choice to take a lead as we seek a partner for this truly transformative and historic project.”

The RFP specifies that the O'Hare Express Service should include a downtown station, an ORD station as well as maintenance facilities. Travel corridors may be above or below ground. Service level goals are travel times of 20 minutes or less with service frequency of at least every 15 minutes for the majority of the day. Premium service fares must be reasonable and less than the cost of current taxi and ride-share services. Any proposal must also address how potential impacts on existing transportation systems and the environment would be avoided or minimized.

Although cost estimates for the project are not yet known, the RFQ and RFP clearly stipulate that the O'Hare Express Service will be funded solely by project-specific revenues (like fares or advertising) and financed entirely by the developer.