Capitol - Your Illinois News Radar » Speaker Madigan signs on to letter seeking $150 million for third Chicago airport
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Speaker Madigan signs on to letter seeking $150 million for third Chicago airport

Friday, May 3, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Press release…

U.S. Representative Robin Kelly, along with Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan and 52 south suburban officials, sent a letter to Governor JB Pritzker requesting his support for the South Suburban Airport (SSA) and surrounding infrastructure.

“The time has come to finally build the South Suburban Airport. We know it will create thousands of good-paying jobs, boost our economy and allow Illinois to reclaim its aviation pre-eminence,” said Congresswoman Kelly

The lawmakers wrote: “Just as Midway and O’Hare spearheaded Illinois’ growth for the past century, SSA will be a cornerstone for prosperity in the 21st Century…As proposed, it will create an economic engine south of Chicago that would generate tens of thousands of jobs, hundreds of millions in annual tax revenues, and billions in new economic activity for Illinois.”

They continued, “Chicago is the largest US market without three airports;” adding that New York, Washington, Miami, Los Angeles and San Francisco each have three major airports.

Acknowledging that airports take decades to plan and rarely happen, officials wrote: “Thanks to the bipartisan efforts by five governors over decades, Illinois has secured the key components – land assemblage, legislative authority, and broad business, labor and political support.”

The FAA first urged Chicago to build a third airport in 1985. Due to capacity constraints, the city has been losing cargo and passenger market-share to places like Denver and Dallas for 20 years.

Kelly and lawmakers also urge the Governor to “apportion $150 million in the 2020 capital bill for initial off-site improvements—a new interchange on I-57, local road upgrades, and connectivity to utilities.” The actual airport, near Monee, will be financed with private dollars.

The letter was signed by three members of Congress; 14 state legislators, including Speaker Madigan; 29 mayors; four Chicago aldermen; two Cook County commissioners and two mayors-elect who represent Cook, Will and Kankakee counties.

The letter is here.


  1. - City Zen - Friday, May 3, 19 @ 12:34 pm:

    New York’s 3rd airport is in New Jersey.

  2. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Friday, May 3, 19 @ 12:36 pm:

    Isn’t Gary Chicago’s third airport? New York has Newark, Washington DC has Baltimore/Washington, etc.

  3. - Blue Dog Dem - Friday, May 3, 19 @ 12:36 pm:

    ….unless SSA is dedicated to hanggliders.

  4. - Rich Miller - Friday, May 3, 19 @ 12:37 pm:

    ===New York’s 3rd airport is in New Jersey===

    And so are both of its football teams. Your point?

  5. - Butch O'Hare - Friday, May 3, 19 @ 12:39 pm:

    Airports are great local economic engines, if managed right and marketed right. This one looks to be mostly for cargo, and that means all-weather, 24-hour usage.

    I’m in favor of it, but I don’t live near it. In most cases when people complain about airplane noise, the airport was there firs and so nobody sympathizes with complainers… So even though I’m guessing a a lot of the surrounding land is farms or industrial, there should be a plan in place for noise abatement and zoning so we don’t get people trying to gum up everything because of the arrival and departure corridors.

  6. - SOIL M - Friday, May 3, 19 @ 12:44 pm:

    Is this really a smart investment for Democrats? The Green New Deal calls for ending air travel, even though they admit that it might not be possible in 10 years it is still a goal. Why not use that money to turn the existing airports into the train stations that they are aiming for.

  7. - SOIL M - Friday, May 3, 19 @ 12:46 pm:

    Forgot to add in the Snark tag there. Sorry.

  8. - Stuntman Bob's Brother - Friday, May 3, 19 @ 12:46 pm:

    Isn’t Gary Chicago’s third airport? New York has Newark, Washington DC has Baltimore/Washington, etc.

    Yes it is, and to a lesser extent, Waukegan.

    What happens when this third airport does not perform as expected, who gets to eat the billions it will take to develop an airport that the air carriers themselves have no interest in? Can we just give it to the pensions at that point and call it a wash?

    If I were cynical, I’d assign Madigan’s motive to be to bail out all of the speculators who bought land in the area years ago. Man, it’s good to be King.

  9. - OneMan - Friday, May 3, 19 @ 12:49 pm:

    How many people are going to drive to Monee for a passigner flight? I can see it doing some cargo work, but Rockford is already a decent sized cargo airport. Seems like it would make more sense to expand that.

  10. - Cool Papa Bell - Friday, May 3, 19 @ 12:55 pm:


  11. - Cool Papa Bell - Friday, May 3, 19 @ 12:59 pm:

    You beat me too it. Rockford is the best option. Always has been to my days in the Stateline 20 years ago.

    Invest $150 million there and forget about the rest. Always thought a rail link between Rockford airport and ORD would make perfect sense.

    And Mitchell in Milwaukee is as viable of an option for many in NW IL

  12. - City Zen - Friday, May 3, 19 @ 1:02 pm:

    ==Your point?==


  13. - Donnie Elgin - Friday, May 3, 19 @ 1:08 pm:

    “the city has been losing cargo and passenger market-share”

    headline “Chicago’s O’Hare Unseats Atlanta as the Nation’s Busiest Airport”

  14. - TheGoodLieutenant - Friday, May 3, 19 @ 1:12 pm:

    == How many people are going to drive to Monee for a passigner flight? ==

    Me for one as it is my hometown. But yes, it will more than likely serve as a cargo hub. Amazon has been busy here along with the intermodal in Crete. It’s time is due for the airport down here. I have an old Park Forest Star Newspaper from 1968 with an article about the proposed third airport.

  15. - Not quite - Friday, May 3, 19 @ 1:22 pm:

    The third airport proposal is a joke. No airline (including cargo focused airlines) has expressed interest in it. These jobs numbers are grossly inflated; there would be some short term construction jobs and then they’ll be paying only 3-4 people to keep an eye on an empty and unused airport. Further, no one has ever offered a reasonable explanation on how a cargo airport benefits the area. Most of Chicago’s airport income comes from parking and concessions. Will County will get none of that.

  16. - City Zen - Friday, May 3, 19 @ 1:25 pm:

    Does building a 3rd airport from the ground up align with JB’s environmental commitments and green initiatives?

  17. - DuPage Saint - Friday, May 3, 19 @ 1:59 pm:

    These things never die. The Ryan/Jackson airport
    Next up the Iliana Expressway and the Prairie State highway

  18. - Benjamin - Friday, May 3, 19 @ 2:02 pm:

    Agreed–this is a wasteful way to increase passenger and freight capacity in Chicagoland when the Rockford and Gary airports a) already exist and b) are closer to existing population centers. The only reason the state wants the South Suburban Airport is to keep the construction money in Illinois (instead of sending it next door to Indiana for Gary, for example).

    I get the impression nobody is really enthused about the project other than legislators from the area. But Democratic governors want to keep their coalition happy. so they keep saying they’re going to build it while marking it a low priority.

    A true high-speed rail system that connected Chicago with St. Louis and Indianapolis and points between would do more to ease pressure on Midway and O’Hare that an airport an hour’s drive from the Loop. Encouraging the use of existing airports would, too.

  19. - Skeptic - Friday, May 3, 19 @ 2:19 pm:

    “What happens when this third airport does not perform as expected, who gets to eat the billions […]?” You mean like the Mid-America airport? It certainly proved the motto “Build it and they will come if they feel like it but don’t bet your lunch money on it.”

  20. - SammyG - Friday, May 3, 19 @ 2:22 pm:

    There isn’t enough demand to keep any airline in Gary for more than 3 months. The Peotone proposal assumed the suburbs would grow past Monee by 2015, and they haven’t yet. This is a pointless waste that should go to rebuilding existing infrastructure.

  21. - Plutocrat03 - Friday, May 3, 19 @ 2:44 pm:

    We don’t need a new airport.

    Bulk up Rockford, Gary and Milwaukee . Capacity issues solved. Improve ground transit between the city and these airports and we r good.

  22. - SouthSide Slim - Friday, May 3, 19 @ 3:06 pm:

    Speaker Madigan represents Midway (in his district) and if he thinks there’s the need for a third airport, it appears that Chicago’s airports are out of capacity (as they have been for years). The city has spent $20 billion on O’Hare “expansion” in 20 years but, guess what, there were more flights in and out of O’Hare 20 years ago than today. Why? Because the airlines are moving their hubs to other, less constrained airports in Denver and Dallas. We can fight to get those jobs back by adding a third airport, or stand idly by and watch jobs and commerce continue to leave the state for better infrastructure (even though we still have the best location as a transportation hub). This airport will be funded by private dollars. If the investors don’t want it, then it won’t happen. But let’s give the private sector a chance to invest, create jobs and raise revenues.

  23. - JS Mill - Friday, May 3, 19 @ 3:08 pm:

    =Rockford is the best option. Always has been to my days in the Stateline 20 years ago.

    Invest $150 million there and forget about the rest. Always thought a rail link between Rockford airport and ORD would make perfect sense.=

    CIRA at Bloomington is also a good choice and don’t forget Peoria. Bloomington already has a rail link and high speed could be added.

    At this point I am not convinced the investment in a third somewhat suburban airport makes sense given the other infrastructure that we have. Peoria and Bloomington airports have gone through major upgrades since this all began. I would guess Rockford too. The three of them are between 1.5 and 2.5 hours from the burbs. Connecting them to Chicago and the suburbs via high speed rail seems like a better investment.

  24. - walker - Friday, May 3, 19 @ 3:11 pm:

    Big votes coming up.

  25. - Kankakee - Friday, May 3, 19 @ 3:12 pm:

    The airport is Kankakee has a runway— right now— big enough to land a 737. That’s only 30 min south of the proposed Peotone airport.

  26. - Six Degrees of Separation - Friday, May 3, 19 @ 3:29 pm:

    ===How many people are going to drive to Monee for a passegner flight?===

    In the late 40’s they were saying the same thing about Orchard Field, way out in the undeveloped fields northwest of Chicago. And the Metra Electric would only need a few miles’ extension past the University Park station to be rail accessible.

    The south suburbs are unified in their support of this proposal, and they have never had as much leverage as they do now, regardless of the opinions of the value of the project…and with MJM aboard, too.

  27. - Kankakee - Friday, May 3, 19 @ 3:38 pm:

    Six Degrees, the south suburbs are absolutely NOT unified in support of this proposal. The Will County municipalities, and Will County itself, are not at ALL unified I support of this. They’re generally against it. What you meant to say is that the Cook County towns that are dying support this idea to help themselves on the backs of those most impacted.

  28. - Anonymous - Monday, May 6, 19 @ 12:18 pm:

    Now everyone is calling this Monee Airport. Remember the land is in Peotone and Beecher and look which mayors didn’t sign the letter. How about the State unload all the farm land they bought and pay down their bills and a capital bill should improve the already dilapidated roads and bridges we have and not create something we can’t support.

  29. - wordslinger - Monday, May 6, 19 @ 1:01 pm:

    Enough already with the Peotone boondoggle.

    It’s not needed, the airlines don’t want it, passengers won’t schlep down there to use it and it’s an environmental disaster.

    Cut the losses and move on.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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