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LaHood claims he’s only spoken once with Quinn about third airport

Wednesday, Jun 26, 2013

* For years, politicians in both parties have promised the south suburbs that a third Chicago-area airport was a top priority, and then nothing ever happened. This spring, Gov. Pat Quinn pushed through a proposal giving the state more control over development of the airport, which the governor has said makes it more likely that local squabbling can be overcome and the airport can then be built.

But departing US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood isn’t so sure that the project is a real priority for Quinn. Jon Hilkevitch of the Tribune interviewed LaHood on his way out the door and here’s what he had to say about the Peotone project

Q: One local issue I can’t recall you ever addressing is the proposed south suburban airport near Peotone. Why?

A: You know why I haven’t talked about it? I talk about things that either the elected officials or the stakeholders have as their priorities. In the last 41/2 years, I’ve never had, except for maybe Jesse (Jackson) Jr. and Gov. Pat Quinn on one occasion, talk to me about the south suburban airport. I don’t know that it has been high up on a list of priorities for Illinois.

I’ve asked the governor’s office for a response and will post it when I get it.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Rahm'sMiddleFinger - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 9:43 am:

    3rd airport has clearly been a priority for Quinn. He pushed for something like $400 M in the capital bill. The issue has always been over governance between Will County and Jesse Jr. No need to engage the feds unless you’ve got the governance structure hammered out. Now they do.

  2. - Arthur Andersen - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 9:47 am:

    Rich, looks like the Governor’s response just came in.

  3. - MrGrassroots - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 9:52 am:

    I don’t read anything into this. Of course, LaHood is the outgoing Sec. of Transportation so sort of moot now. LaHood and Emanuel are very close and we know the mayor then opposed (and I am sure it hasn’t changed) the third airport. He wasn’s asked about Emanuel, but I will bet LaHood and Emanuel had a number of conversations on the third airport. I know Lipinski isn’t doing hand stands about the airport either.

  4. - Small Town Liberal - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 9:57 am:

    Seems like it would have been a waste of Lahood’s time if we couldn’t even get the state end hammered out until recently. The Governor has done more to further this project than his predecessors, so I have a hard time believing it’s not a priority for him.

  5. - CarrollCounty - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 10:26 am:

    Rockford and/or Gary are (should be) our 3rd airports.

  6. - anon - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 10:37 am:

    A third airport is a waste of money in a state that has none. I would imagine that a few, well connected individuals, will make millions through contracts and real-estate transactions. The FAA says it cannot afford to provide Air-Traffic controllers to existing airports. Three airports in such proximity will further complicate an overloaded system. I am confident that Quinn (or his probable successor) will later advocate for high-speed rail to connect the three airports. We can’t afford this and it is a foul smelling pork project.

  7. - MrGrassroots - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 10:52 am:

    The South suburbs has long been neglected and has huge economic potential. The third airport will be the economic engine that will fly the future of the south suburbs and Will County. It will start as cargo and may or may not evolve into a major presence for passenger traffic. Cargo means business, so I disagree that it is not needed.

  8. - Cincinnatus - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 10:52 am:

    A solution looking for a problem. The proposed site is so far away from the population centers of Chicago, I am pretty sure people will not choose to use it. The site would make a good distribution center, though.

  9. - Small Town Liberal - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 10:57 am:

    - The site would make a good distribution center, though. -

    With the intermodal transportation hub in Joliet I think the idea is that the airport could see significant cargo flights.

  10. - MrGrassroots - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 11:10 am:

    Passenger traffic at the third airport will be a bonus. With the proposed extensions of I-355 etc., cargo is the economic engine here. That makes it worthwhile. Much like the Nashville area, this could be a big hub.

    There is a fear that it will hurt Midway, but who really knows.

  11. - anon - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 11:11 am:

    Economic development is sorely needed state-wide, more so the farther south you go. An airport is a HUGE expense with only a slight chance of meaningful economic benefit. Case in point…Mid-America Airport in Mascoutah was intended to be a powerful economic engine to the Metro-East area. Boeing moved a small (very) portion of their avionics division there but it was largely to take advantage of some tax incentives. Our sparse economic development (tax) dollars can be more wisely distributed than a third airport in an area that is doing pretty well already. If an airport is to be built in the name of economic development…might I suggest somewhere south of Mt. Vernon.

  12. - CircularFiringSquad - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 11:30 am:

    PQ response
    “Illinois has always played a big role. Lindberg flew over IL. The Wright brothers would have started here. America is great because of airports
    Lincoln would have been a great pilot.
    I am ordering this LaHood guy to accept a $1 million state contract to lobby his old employees to get Peotone going. By July 10th or sooner.
    Pronto, ASAP,

  13. - soccermom - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 11:35 am:

    Anon - I absolutely believe we should do more to promote economic development in southern Illinois, but I don’t think we do that by building a new airport in a place that lacks the population density to support it.

  14. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 12:05 pm:

    Someone’s making money right now off this boondoggle, but this pipe dream will never happen.

    The state should have cut its losses when Trips was indicted.

  15. - MrGrassroots - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 12:15 pm:

    Hardly a “pipe dream,” since it is happening. Construction will begin in 2015.

  16. - kerfuffle - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 12:30 pm:

    Quinn and his staff are working 24/7 on this issue just like they are on every other issue!

  17. - Loop Lady - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 12:40 pm:

    With the Illiana expressway being a done deal, Peotone airport will be an on/off ramp…Gary is too small, and let’s keep the tax revenue on our side of the State line thank you…

  18. - The KQ - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 1:08 pm:

    –The proposed site is so far away from the population centers of Chicago–

    Are you kidding? Have you not been to the Southwest burbs? You know, there are quite a few people who live south of the city. Just check out I-355N in the morning. All of those cars come from somewhere. I am all for the third airport.

  19. - anon - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 1:14 pm:

    soccermom…. It was just a bit of rehtorical irony….Money can be better spent than on an un-needed airport in a relatively affluent region.

  20. - Cincinnatus - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 2:03 pm:


    Enough to support a major airport?

  21. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 2:24 pm:

    –Hardly a “pipe dream,” since it is happening. Construction will begin in 2015. –

    That’s just swell. Who’s signed up to use it?

  22. - Joe Bidenopolous - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 3:12 pm:

    I just hope it works out as well as Mid-America airport.

  23. - Responsa - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 3:47 pm:

    Meh. An inconsequential and thoroughly unimpressive Transportation Secretary doesn’t talk much to an incompetent and unimpressive governor about an airport almost nobody wants. This is supposed to be news?

  24. - Responsa - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 3:55 pm:

    =PQ response
    “Illinois has always played a big role. Lindberg flew over IL. The Wright brothers would have started here. America is great because of airports.
    Lincoln would have been a great pilot.==

    CFS–well done. But I think you forgot the point that if a plane overshoots or needs to make an emergency landing ala Captain Sully’s landing in the Hudson River, why, WE have the mighty Mississippi!

  25. - Six Degrees of Separation - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 5:45 pm:

    There are probably 2 million people within a 45 minute commute of the SSA. More than the ever-busy Las Vegas airport, but without a similar attractant, and with competing facilities. So, yes, it “could” work, and exists in a potentially big market, but with a few “but’s”. Air cargo could become a semi-hot commodity due to proximity to the monstrous inland port area of the SW burbs and exurbs, but rail-to-air is not really a hot transfer market, more likely it would take off as a cargo facility due to its geographical position near the population center of the US.

  26. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 7:51 pm:

    –…more likely it would take off as a cargo facility due to its geographical position near the population center of the US.–

    Who’s in? Who are the paying customers?

    Gary has a longer runway than Midway and plenty of space. Can’t get more centrally located with rail or the interstates.

    They have oogats. Just Boeing corporate and the annual fly-by-night Florida and Vegas leased-jet golf runs in the winter that the airport pays to market to keep their cut of the Chicago PFC under the bi-state compact.

    Where is the private market for this environmental disaster?

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