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"Editorial: Move quickly, Governor, in developing South SuburbanAirport"

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Editorial: Move quickly, Governor, in developing South Suburban Airport 
By The Chicago (IL)  Daily Southtown Editorial Board

A group of elected leaders representing the south suburbs has joined together 
to call on Gov. Bruce Rauner to find a partner to help the state finally move 
forward on development of the long-sought, third Chicago-area airport.

We stand with these leaders in support of the decades-old proposal, which has 
long been blocked by political rivalries between Chicago interests and the rest 
of the state.

The last five governors, members of both political parties, have supported the 
project, to one degree or another. As a result, the Illinois Department of 
Transportation has acquired some 4,400 acres of land surrounding Bult Field, an 
airstrip near Monee and Peotone, at a cost of some $96 million. Bult Field has 
been renamed the South Suburban Airport and is envisioned by supporters as the 
centerpiece of the proposed project.

IDOT earlier this year solicited proposals from six development firms in hopes 
of finding a partner to help Illinois move forward with the project.

The majority of the firms said they would need a commitment from state 
political leaders before they would make their own. Among the officials who 
signed the letter to Rauner are nine state legislators, three U.S. 
representatives and 19 mayors representing south suburban communities.

We urge Rauner to take a break from the political in-fighting over the state 
budget impasse and make a commitment to residents of the south suburban region 
and their elected representatives that he will "move quickly," as the letter 
urges him, to enlist a development partner on the airport.

In their letter to the governor, the local leaders made a strong argument for 
the project. They noted that O'Hare and Midway airports reached their operation 
capacity years ago and lack the ability to grow. The South Suburban Airport 
would give the Chicago region an opportunity to increase its standing as the 
nation's busiest inland port as well as the United States' transportation hub. 
They noted that some 2 million people live within 45 minutes of the proposed 
airport site, forming a customer base in addition to the industrial and 
commercial aviation needs of the south suburbs. For more than 30 years the 
Federal Aviation Administration has been urging Illinois government leaders to 
come together on a third airport in the interest of not just the state's 
economy but also for the national aviation system's needs.

As with every issue in Illinois these days, there is a danger that the 
political stalemate in Springfield will take precedence over this new push for 
the airport project. But Rauner has an opportunity here to take a stand that 
would benefit this region as well as the rest of Illinois. And in doing so 
Rauner might put some pressure on House Speaker Michael Madigan and his 
Democratic colleagues to join the governor in working for a positive 
accomplishment on behalf of all of their constituents. In other words, it might 
be good politics as well as good government to get on board.
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