CHICAGO - Illinois on Friday submitted a revised layout plan for a third regional airport in the Chicago area to the Federal Aviation Administration, an application that steered clear of the dispute between Will County and a suburban group over who will control the airport.
The submission marks a significant step forward in the long process of seeking approval for the one-runway, one terminal air field that would be built near the village of Peotone, about 40 miles southwest of Chicago.
"There is a broad consensus in favor of building a third major airport to serve the transportation needs of the area, and now we have a layout plan that we can move forward with," Gov. Rod Blagojevich said in a statement.
The new plan includes some differences from the original plan submitted last year in that it relocated the airport's initial runway. "IDOT's planning process has determined that this proposed runway layout is the most environmentally sound, cost-effective, and operationally efficient alternative, and that it will have the least impact on the communities in the vicinity of the airport," said Illinois Department of Transportation Secretary Milton Sees.
The state has asked the FAA to conduct an airspace feasibility study as to the effect of the runway layout on the national air traffic grid while IDOT undertakes the next step of performing an environmental impact statement.
The state has over the last decade been acquiring land - up to 1,940 acres and 69 parcels of the 133 needed. The state last year submitted two airport layout plans to reflect the proposals of two differing groups - one led by Will County officials and another that includes a group of suburbs led by U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Ill. The FAA refused to consider both and told the state to return with a single preferred plan.
The Illinois General Assembly would ultimately be responsible for settling governance issues involving the airport. The costs for the airport range from $250 million to $400 million with Jackson proposing to build the airport with private investors and Will County preferring a more traditional funding scheme that relies in part on borrowing.