Prof. Justin Marlowe quoted in the Chicago Tribune

In a piece from the Chicago Tribune entitled: The O’Hare rebuild is mired in negotiations and potential changes. Here’s how another airport finished construction, Prof. Justin Marlowe was consulted as a source. 

Reporter Sarah Freishtat writes: 

"Also playing a key role is the public-private partnership developing and operating one of the terminals at the New York airport, said Justin Marlowe, director of the Center for Municipal Finance at the University of Chicago. Though government agencies set standards for the airport, the partnership is responsible for running it, meaning the partnership likely was driven to help design and build the new terminal efficiently, he said. And because they are also operating the terminal, the companies involved stand to make money once the airport is up and running and meeting standards, so they have a strong incentive to get the project finished.

"The partnerships can be controversial, though. In Denver, a public-private partnership tasked with completing a planned $650 million terminal renovation reportedly fell apart in 2019.

"And the partnerships have long been met with skepticism in Illinois, Marlowe said. Plus, Chicago’s record of bringing the private sector into public infrastructure is questionable, he said. In an infamous 2008 deal, the city leased its parking meters to a private investment firm for an infusion of cash, and the firm recouped the cost and began profiting off the meters with decades left on the lease.

"Still, Marlowe said, those efforts reflected political will. And regardless of how it got done, the completion of LaGuardia can be a comparison for business leaders who want to see if it’s possible for Chicago to complete a major infrastructure project, he said.

When the political will is there, these things happen, one way or another,” he said.