Gov. Pat Quinn has signed a wide-ranging bill that will allow state officials to push forward on a third Chicago area airport. Efforts on the project have been stalled for decades because of disagreements about local control.
The bill signed Thursday authorized the Illinois Department of Transportation to spend about $70 million to continue land acquisition. The construction will be a public-private partnership and Quinn's office estimates it'll create 14,000 jobs when operational.
The bill also allows Chicago to set up financing for a new DePaul University sports arena on Lake Michigan and provides tax incentives for a fertilizer plant in central Illinois.
“From day one, I have fought to make the South Suburban Airport a reality in Will County,” Gov. 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.”
The project had been delayed for years over who would control the airport – Will County or a group led by former Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. But now Will County executive Larry Walsh says the issue over local control is no longer valid, given that IDOT will assume the lead. Walsh credited State Sen. Toi Hutchinson for pushing the legislation to get the deal done.
“They have opened up the doors and have guaranteed us that anytime we need to meet, any kind of questions, they are open for discussion and debate,” Walsh said. “When you’ve got that kind of opportunity, let’s all work together and see what we can come up with. “
Follow WBEZ’s Northwest Indiana reporter Michael Puente on Twitter @MikePuenteNews.
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