MONEE – Governor Pat Quinn today announced that Illinois is taking an important next step toward building the South Suburban Airport (SSA). At the direction of Governor Quinn, the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) will host an industry forum next month with private developers, air carriers and potential airport tenants to create a business plan and strategy to complete the project as quickly and efficiently as possible. The move follows the state’s recent purchase of Bult Field – a general aviation airport that will serve as the SSA’s first runway.
Today’s announcement is part of Governor Quinn’s agenda to create jobs and develop a third major Chicago regional area airport in the south suburbs, one of his key priorities since taking office.
“Bult Field and the upcoming industry forum are further proof that the South Suburban Airport is closer than ever to becoming an economic engine for Illinois,” Governor Quinn said. “The upcoming industry forum will be an opportunity for Illinois’ bright minds to get together to ensure this historic project can land on-time and on-target. This project, as well as the Illiana Expressway, are top priorities of my administration and will help create jobs and unlock the true economic potential of the south suburban region.”
This week, IDOT issued a Request for Information (RFI) to seek input from firms interested in a public-private partnership to build and operate the South Suburban Airport. The process, culminating with the industry forum hosted by IDOT on Sept. 23, will help the state evaluate different methods to build and run the facility, as well as heighten market interest in the project. A previous RFI focused on developing a marketing plan for the airport.
“There has never been a more exciting time for the South Suburban Airport, with the acquisition of Bult Field representing a major step forward,” Acting IDOT Secretary Erica Borggren said. “We are committed to delivering a successful, vibrant airport as soon as possible and are keen to hear from industry partners in the weeks to come.”
The latest RFI comes after the state completed the $34 million purchase of Bult Field on June 30. The airport sits on 288 acres in the footprint of the South Suburban Airport and includes a 5,000-foot runway, hangars, a terminal and additional surrounding land. The purchase, made possible by a $100 million commitment for land acquisition for the South Suburban Airport from Governor Quinn’s Illinois Jobs Now! capital construction program, means the state has acquired almost 3,600 of the 5,800 acres needed for the airport.
Bult Field will remain a general aviation facility under state ownership. Once the South Suburban Airport is up and running, Bult Field will become part of the overall facility and continue to fulfill the area’s general aviation needs.
“Today the Southland shows its support for the airport and demonstrates our determination to make it a reality,” U.S. Representative Robin Kelly (D-2nd) said. “The purchase of Bult Field gives us a working airfield and a new marketing tool to promote our regional economy. Because of the leadership of Governor Quinn, we’re optimistically looking at a 2016 ground-breaking. With the exciting prospects of a new airport and the Illiana coming soon, the Chicago Southland is poised to become a major player in the global economy.”
“The South Suburban airport is a promising dream that is finally coming to fruition,” State Senator Toi Hutchinson (D-Chicago Heights) said. “Each step taken towards its completion is a step towards thousands of manufacturing, logistics and transportation jobs, as a well as an economic engine that will light a fire throughout the entire state and country as a whole.”
Under Governor Quinn’s direction, the state has accelerated progress on the South Suburban Airport. The project is expected to create more than 11,000 jobs during construction. Once the airport is open, thousands more jobs will be created to support airport and airline operations, along with spin-off opportunities in trucking and logistics, cargo, restaurants, hotels and retail establishments.
In addition to the ongoing land acquisition and procurement efforts, IDOT is working with the Federal Aviation Administration on an airport master plan. All key elements of the master plan have been submitted and are approved, accepted or under review by the FAA. The FAA is also conducting a Tier 2 Environmental Impact Statement to assess impacts during and after construction. Pending completion of the environmental report and approval of the master plan, construction could begin as soon as 2016.
For more information on South Suburban Airport, visit www.southsuburbanairport.com.