After decades of debate over adding a third airport to the Chicago area, the Illinois House of Representatives has passed a measure that will allow for the construction and operation of a new airport to be located in Will County.
The legislation approved Thursday allows the Illinois Department of Transportation to enter into a public-private partnership to develop the South Suburban Airport in Peotone.
Gov. Pat Quinn calls the House vote a breakthrough. He says after years of pushing, the state is moving forward with developing a "huge economic engine" that will create jobs.
But some representatives criticized the way the bill was put together, lumping several projects around the state into one bill that was introduced hours before it was passed with 81 votes.
“I’m concerned on the scope of this bill,” Democratic State Rep. Jack Franks said Thursday. “I think there’s a lot of good things in here, but I also think there are things that would not and could not and should not pass on their own. And that’s why they’ve been put in this bill, to try to cover that up.”
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has criticized the idea of a third airport, and some lawmakers questioned how much use the airport would get and how much notice property owners would get before their land is used for the airport.
The measure also authorizes financing for a new 10,000-seat basketball arena for DePaul University near Chicago's McCormick Place. The facility also would be used as a hall for conventions and trade shows.
The bill now moves to the Senate.
Tony Arnold covers Illinois politics for WBEZ. Follow him @tonyjarnold.