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March 3, 1999


SPRINGFIELD -- Gov. George H. Ryan today submitted a revised plan to the Federal Aviation Administration for a new major airport at the Peotone site in Will County -- an airport that would have one runway and support facilities designed to grow only with the future demand for air travel.

The state Department of Transportation requested a review and approval of the revised plan, and asked the FAA to expeditiously process the Environmental Impact Statement for the project.

"This airport is designed to supplement O'Hare and Midway airports. Our goal with this plan is to increase air capacity for the Chicago region, not to relocate existing operations from other airports," Ryan said. "All projections show that the Chicago area will need extra capacity in the future. This airport provides the entire region with the ability to expand air capacity as needed and to provide relief for the noise-weary suburbs around O'Hare International Airport.

"My goal is to make sure that Illinois -- and the Chicago area -- remains one of the nation's main air hubs in the 21st century."

Ryan pointed out that the U.S. Secretary of Transportation recently stated, "Before any flight plan for the next century can get off the ground, we need to have the system capacity to support it."

"I believe that our new plan will help meet our future needs and will help foster competition in the northeastern Illinois marketplace benefiting the air traveler," Ryan said.

The new configuration for the Peotone site, called the "Inaugural Airport" in the plan, would consist of one 12,000-foot runway designed to handle the largest aircraft currently operating, a complete parallel taxiway system and a precision instrument landing system. This proposal is similar to the design Ryan unveiled last year during his campaign for governor.

The 12-gate terminal suggested in the proposal would be designed to handle more than 2 million passengers expected during the first year, but could accommodate up to 4 million passengers within three years of the airport opening. One of the gates would be designed to handle up to eight commuter flights.

The Inaugural Airport will initially require 4,100 acres of land. Property acquisition will not start until the FAA processes the required Environmental Impact Statement for the proposal.

The estimated cost for the airport, including land and the roadway interchange with Interstate 57, is $468 million. Construction of the airport would be financed through a combination of federal airport improvement dollars and private financing.

"Let me make this perfectly clear," Ryan said. "No road funds will be used for the construction of the new airport nor will any money be taken from other airports in the state to fund the new airport."

The Illinois Department of Transportation, in the submission to the FAA, said the plan also meets the FAA's request for additional data on the initial demand levels for the one-runway airport.

A recent study by Booz, Allen, and Hamilton on air capacity needs in Northeastern Illinois completed for the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, as well as the state's own aviation forecasts, both show a need for increased capacity in the Chicago region. The construction of a third airport that could be expanded would meet this demand well into the 21st Century.


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