Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Letter to the Editor: Independent Analysis of Alternatives to Peotone Airport Needed

Will County News received the following letter to the editor.  Letters can be sent to
Dear Editor,
The Chicago region’s five commercial airports—O’Hare, Midway, Rockford, Milwaukee, and Gary—can meet the aviation industry’s needs for the foreseeable future.  That’s what airlines have been telling the Illinois political apparatus for more than a generation.
Nevertheless, a rhetorical merry-go-round continues circling above the eastern Will County countryside where the state has spent $76 million on land for a sixth regional airport.  

Gov. Quinn claims Peotone is “closer than ever to becoming an economic engine for Illinois.”  State Sen. Toi Hutchinson envisions thousands  of “manufacturing, logistics, and transportation jobs.”  U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly predicts a 2016 groundbreaking. In 1996, Kelly’s predecessor—then first-term congressman, Jesse Jackson Jr.–claimed a 2000 groundbreaking would lead to 236,000  “immediate” jobs.

The politicians speak from a script prepared by the Illinois Department of Transportation.  Since 1985, IDOT “studies” have created the perception that a sixth regional airport would only be the third.

Springfield’s decades-old, smoke-and-mirrors game includes a strategy to ignore on-the-ground reality—e.g. a 2005 resolution adopted by a half dozen units of local government, the Will County Farm Bureau, and community group Shut This Airport Nightmare Down. The Peotone community has been so beaten down as to have forgotten their demand for an  “independent study” of all viable alternatives. 

Illinois' next governor owes the people of our state what the people of eastern Will County saw the need for nine years ago.  May we please see a legitimate analysis of “airport-related costs and benefits based on various scenarios, including an assumption that a Peotone airport would attract no daily commercial passenger service for many years, if ever?” 

Bob Heuer