CHICAGO — Illinois has submitted a draft airport layout plan to the Federal Aviation Administration for a third regional airport to be located far southwest of Chicago, Gov. Pat Quinn said Thursday.

The airport has long been discussed but its advances have come slowly.

The layout plan for the South Suburban Airport, to be located about 40 miles southwest of Chicago near Peotone, is the sixth of nine key steps in developing the airport master plan needed to advance the project, according to Quinn's office.

The Illinois Department of Transportation will also ask the General Assembly to appropriate the remaining $71 million of a $100 million allocation earmarked for airport land purchases in the state's $31 billion capital plan.

"The draft of the airport layout plan is the biggest step yet toward making the South Suburban Airport a reality," Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann Schneider said in a statement. "We are making tremendous progress on our master plan and look forward, through our partnership with the FAA, to advancing this important project into the final planning stages."

The state has spent nearly $30 million so far toward the purchase of 2,317 acres for the inaugural airport. The approximate airport footprint is 5,800 acres, spread over 148 parcels. The airport plan calls for a 9,500-foot runway.

Quinn has been accused by some south suburban advocates of the airport as dragging the state's feet in the planning process. Airlines have expressed little interest in the facility that may rely on private financing, but supporters believe the additional capacity will eventually be needed.

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