PEOTONE, Ill. (CBS) — Will County officials say they plan to meet later this month with the Illinois transportation director to discuss the proposed Peotone airport project.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Dave Berner reports, the scheduled meeting in Springfield is a clear sign that efforts continue toward building a third airport, despite the controversies.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Dave Berner reports

U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) and others have long pushed for the airport, but Will County officials contend that plans for the one terminal and one runway are flawed.

They argue the project should instead be placed in the hands of a governing airport authority that would be led by the county and approved by the Illinois General Assembly.

Earlier this week,
a Chicago Sun-Times report syndicated by the Sun-Times Media Wire quoted Susan Shea, director of the aeronautics division at IDOT: ““To the naysayers, this is it. The FAA would not tell us this is the preferred place. This is where it’s going to be. It’s going to be such an economic engine for the community out there, for the state. It is going to happen. It’s just a matter of when. It’s not a matter anymore of if.”

But IDOT spokesman Guy Tridgell said Shea and her department have only prepared documents on the airport, and the department has not approved them or submitted them to the Federal Aviation Administration. The aeronautics department plans are also just one part of a master plan that must be submitted to the FAA, Tridgell said.

“By no means are we ready to build the airport. But this is a procedural step that is significant. We’re one step closer,” Tridgell told CBS 2.

The state has acquired 2,317 acres for the airport and is seeking 623 more in nine land condemnation cases in Will County. Condemnation is not a preferred method of hers, Shea said, noting that as a child, her family lost a house near Peoria to the state for what became part of Interstate 74.

Back in April, Rep. Jackson led a symbolic groundbreaking ceremony for the airport in which people were asked to bring their own shovels.

Jackson is currently on a leave of absence from Congress for a medical problem.

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS Radio and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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