Daley gives Illiana Expressway green light

2013-09-25T16:17:00Z 2013-09-26T00:34:05Z Daley gives Illiana Expressway green lightKeith Benman keith.benman@nwi.com, (219) 933-3326 nwitimes.com
September 25, 2013 4:17 pm  • 

One south suburban transportation project received a green light from former Chicago Mayor Richard Daley on Wednesday, but he said another will never fly.

The Illiana Expressway, already endorsed by Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, is a necessity at this point, Daley said.

"They really need that," the former mayor said while being interviewed after the One Region annual luncheon Wednesday. "There is a huge intermodal presence there. They need it. They have to get it. Otherwise, you can't have anything moving north or south."

The two state departments of transportation hope to have the Illiana Expressway under construction by 2015. It would run from Interstate 65 near Lowell to Interstate 55 near Wilmington, Ill.

But when it comes to the proposed airport at Peotone, also backed by Gov. Quinn, Daley said it will never fly.

“Nobody wants it,” he said.

As far as the state of Illinois buying the land around Peotone as it is doing now, “They will probably make it a park,” he said.

Many observers think Daley's longtime support of Gary/Chicago International Airport as Chicago's "third airport" is rooted in his opposition to any airport at Peotone.

On the subject of current progress at the Gary airport, Daley said the lightly used airport just southeast of Chicago needs to get its second runway built. That would be in addition to the current $166 million expansion of the main runway.

"In order to get any cargo, they need a second runway," Daley said. "You can't delay cargo, so they need a second runway."

While serving as Chicago mayor, Daley had said Gary could help relieve congestion at O'Hare by handling some of the cargo that flows through the Chicago airport.

As for the current effort to privatize Gary airport management and development, Daley said it may be the only way to build up business there.

"They need to get money," he said. "If they keep waiting for the federal government it will get harder and harder. I think they need private money."

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