Governor Pat Quinn said that he has supported the third airport in the south suburban area since the day he took office, as he signed into law Senate Bill 20, sponsored by State Senator Toi Hutchinson (D-Chicago Heights) and State Representative John Bradley (D-Marion).
“I think, for most people, the South Suburban Airport has been talked about from decades. I have worked from the day I was sworn in as governor, and we had to keep working on it,” Quinn said. “It wasn’t an easy mountain to climb, but we did it together, and we got it done. We got the job done.”
According to a press release from Governor Quinn’s office, the measure signed into law by Governor Pat Quinn allows the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) to spend $71 million on land acquisition for the South Suburban Airport. Illinois has invested about $40 million to date on land acquisition. The remainder to be spent is to complete land acquisition for the inaugural footprint.
IDOT now has the power to build the South Suburban Airport. IDOT will enter into a public-private partnership to develop, finance, construct, manage, operate and maintain the South Suburban Airport. The law requires IDOT to collaborate with all units of local government and private entities that are impacted by the airport, and sets up a transparent public process to build the facility and select a firm to operate the airport.
The airport, that will be built in Will County, will become a new “global transportation hub” that will employ more than 11,000 construction workers to build the airport and 14,000 people when operational. The new law – which was applauded today by elected officials, labor, and community leaders – gives IDOT the power to enter into a public-private partnership for the development, construction and operation of the airport.
“From day one, I have fought to make the South Suburban Airport a reality in Will County,” Governor Quinn said. “Today, I am happy to say that our hard work and commitment to getting the job done has paid off. Now we can move forward with the development of this major economic engine that will strengthen our status as the transportation hub of the nation while creating thousands of good-paying jobs in Illinois.”
Over the past several years, Governor Quinn has worked to secure numerous approvals from the FAA, millions of capital dollars for land acquisition and thousands of acres to build the airport. Senate Bill 20, sponsored by State Senator Toi Hutchinson (D-Chicago Heights) and State Representative John Bradley (D-Marion), authorizes the process to acquire the land necessary for the airport’s development in the southland.
“There have been talks about constructing a south suburban airport for over 40 years, this will move the process forward,” State Senator Hutchinson said. “The airport will bring steady jobs and economic development to the Southland. Once operational, the airport will ensure the growth of our local economy.”
“Building this airport is an essential step in enhancing the Southland’s global profile and strengthening our local economy,” U.S. Congresswoman Robin Kelly (D-IL) said. “I’d like to thank Governor Quinn, the General Assembly and the many local officials whose work turned the vision of a third airport into a reality. I look forward to working closely with all parties to ensure that we build a first-class facility that improves our communities, employs local people and makes us all proud.”
“The South Suburban Airport is the kind of large-scale project needed to provide an economic jolt to Will County,” State Representative Larry Walsh (D-Elwood) said. “The construction and operation of this airport will help bring thousands of steady, well-paying jobs to our area and boost the regional economy. I look forward to breaking ground on this historic project, and I will continue to support measures that put local families back to work.”
Will County is the ideal location for the South Suburban Airport because of its existing major highway and railroad infrastructure, its growing population and the nearby presence of many global logistics firms.
According to Governor Quinn’s office, the aviation industry already has a $40.9 billion annual economic impact in Illinois, and 337,000 jobs can currently be traced back to aviation in the state. Those numbers will grow substantially once the South Suburban Airport is operational. Jobs will be created for construction workers to build the airport, and once complete, employees will be hired for airport and airline operations, cargo, security, concessions, trucking and logistics, restaurants, hotels, rental car businesses and retail establishments.
“The South Suburban Airport is uniquely positioned to capitalize on and contribute to the region’s growth by offering a flexible and convenient multi-modal solution for businesses and passengers alike,” IDOT Secretary Ann Schneider said.
IDOT has produced an Airport Master Plan for the South Suburban Airport that is now under review by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). This master plan will be used to create the facility, and officials expect full FAA approval within a few months. The airport site comprises about 5,800 acres, with about half of the land already acquired under the governor’s leadership. The airport could eventually encompass about 20,000 acres including land necessary for access roads and noise abatement.
Governor Quinn recently spoke to newly appointed U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, to ask that the FAA expedite review and approval of the remaining chapters to ensure that this project can move forward quickly.
Illinois is also partnering with the state of Indiana to construct the Illiana Expressway, a new 50-mile highway stretching from I-65 in Indiana to I-55 near Wilmington in southern Will County. When built, the Illiana Corridor Project will reduce the strain of truck traffic on local roads, thereby improving safety, travel times and job accessibility. Potential economic benefits include the creation of more than 9,000 construction jobs and more than 25,000 long-term jobs.
The selected Illiana route will provide access to the South Suburban Airport once both projects are completed.
Senate Bill 20 also contains and economic development provisions for other parts of Illinois. The law is effective immediately. These include:
Allows construction of an arena near McCormick Place for DePaul University sporting events and for small- to medium-sized conventions.
Amends the property tax code so farmland property taxes are based on the income potential for the individual piece of farmland, rather than on a statewide average productivity of all farmland.
Allows new or expanded fertilizer plants to be eligible for state job-creation incentives, with a minimum of 125 jobs created.
Assists with the development of the Port of East St. Louis along the Mississippi River.
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John is the author of an award-winning book, the 2010 Winner of the USA National Best Book award for African American studies, published by The Elevator Group, Mr. and Mrs. Grassroots. Also available an eBook on Amazon. John is also a member of the Society of Midland Authors and is a book reviewer of political books for the New York Journal of Books. John has volunteered for many political campaigns. John is an unpaid volunteer and social media advisor at Robin Kelly for Congress.