Proposed Peotone airport still circling

Local officials say a proposed airport in rural Peotone has become an on-again, off-again nightmare for local residents.

Since 2002, the Illinois Department of Transportation has purchased more than 4,000 acres of land, totaling nearly $100 million, in a plan to eventually build a third major airport serving Chicagoland. The planned site lies little more than 40 miles south of Chicago in rural Will County.

But with waning support from state officials and an ongoing budget stalemate keeping funds locked down, the proposed airport looked to be stalled.

There had been no announced movement listed at IDOT’s website devoted to the project in more than a year, but just last month officials submitted more plans to the FAA for approval, leading to more uncertainty about the seemingly dead project.

The airport has been controversial since it was first considered decades ago. Proponents say it will bring jobs and economic activity to the area. But locals in Will County are largely opposed. Will County Board member Judy Ogalla says opposition to the airport is bipartisan in her area. “I win (elections) because the work that I do for the residents against the airport,” she said. “Democrat and Republican alike know that I fight against it. They know that.”

Ogalla says the uncertainty is killing local economic growth.

“With it hanging over our heads, the small communities haven’t grown the way they might have otherwise. Nobody’s sure whether it’s going come or not,” she said.

IDOT Aviation Director Steven Young declined to comment on the future of the project, but Spokeswoman Gianna Urgo said in a statement, “The proposed South Suburban Airport is still a project that remains under review. The Illinois Department of Transportation continues to evaluate the project, but no decisions have been made regarding next steps.”

–Illinois News Network

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