Mr. Brown, please get your facts straight

Mr. Brown, please get your facts straight

By David Lindberg

Mr. Brown, please get your facts straight

by David Lindberg

Recently, Congressman Manzullo went before Congress to request funding for expansion projects at the Greater Rockford Airport that would allow it to act as a reliever airport during expansion at O’Hare. This is a most welcome move in that until now, support for RFD has been strictly verbal with no funding attached. I commend Congressman Manzullo for his leadership on this issue. However, then there is Kirk Brown, director of the Illinois Dept. of Transportation. Mr. Brown, in turn, reported that RFD cannot be expanded to handle more than a few flights because it is surrounded by rivers on two sides and the city on the third. This is the same tired language that Mr. Brown has used for the past two years, in an attempt to prevent RFD from becoming an effective passenger facility.

The effective use of RFD is more than a transportation issue, it is a vital economic development issue for the state’s second city. Senators Durbin, Fitzgerald, McCain, Jane Garvey of the FAA, Congressman Manzullo and many other national leaders have called for fuller use of our airport. However, Mr. Brown attempts to block this vital project with his continued misrepresentation of the facts. What are the facts? First, unless the Kishwaukee and Rock rivers have been moved recently, they border RFD on the northwest and north, as does the majority of the city. Areas to the southwest, west, east and southeast are teaming with green space. Second, study after study has shown that RFD can be expanded to be a major air passenger airport with a capacity to handle up to 33 percent of the current operations that O’Hare handled prior to 9/11.

It is my hope that the reason Mr. Brown continues to misrepresent the facts regarding RFD is that he is confused about where Rockford really is, and the immense planning effort for the Peotone airport has consumed all his time. This must be the case, because why would a leading state official go before Congress and undermine a U.S. Congressman’s attempt to bring vital economic funds to a facility in his state? There is tremendous competition for airport expansion funding throughout the country, and it would be hard to believe that the leading state transportation official would try to undermine efforts to bring a portion of that to his own state.

With a new director on board at RFD and the continued support of Congressman Manzullo, Senator Durbin and Senator Fitzgerald, as well as the tireless efforts by Rockford Mayor Doug Scott and state officials such as Senator Syverson, I would hope that after the elections this year, the Kishwaukee and Rock rivers and the City of Rockford proper would be moved back to their original geographical positions, and with new leadership that is not blinded by single-minded political featherbedding, that we can repair the damage that the current governor and Mr. Brown have done to the economic vitality of this region. Perhaps we should bring back the “Golden Fleece” awards and make Governor Ryan and Kirk Brown lifetime achievement award winners.

David Lindberg is the chairman of the Greater Rockford Transportation Coalition.

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