2007 May Not Be "The" Year For Third
Poor Peotone Airport. The familiar
"We Try Harder" car rental company slogan may be appropriate for
the proposed third Chicago-area airport.
With the state of Illinois submitting two plans for the much
anticipated Peotone airport to the FAA, the agency's reaction was:
just one, please -- an unanticipated response to Peotone backers,
according to Suburban Chicago News.
Said FAA spokesman Tony Molinaro, the FAA "doesn't consider the
state's planning process complete until one design has been
selected. We typically receive just one preferred plan."
Peotone is located about 40 miles south of Chicago. As reported by ANN,
transportation planners have been working on a third regional
airport for Illinois for at least 25 years.
The submission of two plans for approval and the FAA selecting
the best, was the result of Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich's
hopes of resolving a dispute over rival visions for the
In fact, Blagojevich included a second plan in addition to the
Illinois DOT's own design at the urging of U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson
(D-Chicago), often seen as the airport's biggest cheerleader.
According to Rick Bryant, Jackson's spokesman and executive
director of Jackson's Abraham Lincoln National Airport Commission
(ALNAC), Jackson's plan called for a larger distance between the
third airport's runway and Bult Field, a small, private airfield
already operating at the Peotone site.
By doubling the distance between the runways from the state's
preference of a half-mile to a mile, said Bryant, Jackson's plan
takes into account recent growth at Bult Field. The plan "is safer
and allows for easier future expansion," Bryant said.
Bryant noted that the FAA's one airport-one plan announcement
"contradicts what we have previously been told."
Illinois DOT (IDOT) spokesman Mike
Claffey said Friday's FAA statement -- made to the Daily Southtown
before IDOT and ALNAC officials had been contacted -- had been a
"surprise" to the state, too.
"It's difficult to respond until we've heard directly and in
detail from the FAA," Claffey said. He noted that the two plans had
been submitted because FAA officials were the "best people to look
at the merits of each."
FAA officials will speak with the state next week about
submitting a unified set of plans, Molinaro said. The FAA must
consider the environmental impact of the airport, he said, which
would cater to about 40,000 flights a year, as well as safety
The approval process, which is expected to take between a year
and 18 months, will not begin until that happens, Molinaro
Airport backers really expected 2007 to be "the" year for
Peotone: Jackson's strengthened influence with Democrat control of
Congress, IDOT establishing a field office at the airport site, the
state hiring an aeronautics director, and moves made to acquire the
2,200 acres needed by eminent domain.
"We're still hopeful," Bryant said.