Reporting Mike Krauser
PEOTONE, Ill. (CBS) — In what is being deemed “the biggest step yet toward making the South Suburban Airport a reality,” the State of Illinois has submitted a Layout Plan to the FAA for the proposed Peotone airport.
As WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports, Gov. Pat Quinn calls the layout plan submission another major milestone toward approval of the airport. The plan is the sixth of nine key elements, Quinn says in a statement, that make up the master plan for the airport.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports
The state has spent about $30 million buying 2,317 of the 5,800 acres that would make up the footprint of the airport. Quinn is asking the Illinois General Assembly to approve the remaining $70 million needed for the land.
The layout plan is composed of technical drawings showing the airfield infrastructure and related facilities needed to operate the airport.
The runway for the airport has been designed to accommodate aircraft such as the Boeing 737 and Airbus A320 routinely, but could also accommodate larger aircraft, according to a news release.
But a key component, support from the airlines, remains elusive.
The project has been beset over the years by arguments over where to build the airport, opposition from airlines and – most recently – a battle over who would control it.
U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.’s Abraham Lincoln National Airport Commission, a grouping of 21 municipal governments in the Chicago area, had been seeking the go-ahead from Quinn and said it has lined up $700 million in private funds and two developers.
But officials in Will County also want control and have been pressuring Quinn to stop talks with Jackson’s commission. Instead, they want the state legislature to create a governing airport authority led by the county that would have clear powers to develop, finance and operate the airport.
Back in April, Rep. Jackson led a symbolic groundbreaking ceremony for the airport in which people were asked to bring their own shovels. But Jackson, who is on medical leave from Congress, is absent from the latest discussions.
In July, Illinois Department of Transportation aeronautics division director Susan Shea was quoted in a Chicago Sun-Times article as saying the airport was essentially a done deal, and that its construction was no longer a matter of if, but when.
But IDOT officials later said the remark was premature, and that hea and her department have only prepared documents on the airport that had yet to be submitted them to the Federal Aviation Administration.