GLENWOOD | Illinois Department of Transportation officials have learned exactly where a new airport proposed for rural Will County near Peotone would be constructed.
Susan Shea, an aeronautics director for IDOT, told a gathering Friday of the Chicago Southland Economic Development Corp. that her office was sent an alternatives report by the Federal Aviation Administration in late June.
Among the information included in that report is the exact location of where the primary runway would be constructed, along with the airport terminal, cargo area and parking for passengers.
The primary runway would be located just south of what is now Eagle Lake Road in unincorporated Monee Township, Shea said. When U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Ill., and religious leaders held a symbolic airport groundbreaking earlier this year, they did it just north of Eagle Lake Road.
Having an exact location for the airport’s earliest stages is a benefit, Shea said, because it allows state officials to determine what access roads need to be developed to let motorists get from Interstate 57 to the airport site.
“We can now have the (state) Division of Highway start plotting were the access roads will be, it’s becoming real,” she said.
Shea also said that anybody in rural Will County who doubts that a new Chicago-area airport will be built somewhere in the farmland between Monee, Peotone and Beecher is misguided.
“This is it. It’s going to happen,” she said. “The FAA would not paint a site on the page. They wouldn’t do that if this airport were not going to be.”
George Ochsenfeld, president of the Monee-based Shut This Airport Nightmare Down, was not swayed by Shea's pronouncement of a specific airport site.
"So what?" he said. "Who's going to finance it? Who's going to build it?"
Of Shea, Ochsenfeld said, "She's spinning and spinning like a hurricane, this airport is dead, but she doesn't want to accept it."
As far as the actual airport site, Shea said Friday it would require 2,317 acres when it opens, and 2,417 acres when it is complete. Much of that land already has been purchased by the state, although Shea said there remain a few acres that need to be purchased from local property owners.
Of the land the state already owns, 1,926 acres were bought from farmers who have been allowed to remain on the land under lease agreements. Another 20 acres of the airport site is being used by homeowners who will live on the land until construction is imminent.
Not that Shea would say when that would be.
“I always get in trouble with the FAA whenever I give a specific date,” she said.
During her presentation to the economic development corporation, Shea cited the potential for new jobs to the south suburbs. She said about 11,000 jobs would be created during a three-year construction period.
Up to 3,500 jobs would be created at the airport itself during its first year of operations, Shea said, adding that figure could rise to about 15,000 jobs after the airport has been in existence for 15 years.
She also cited overall economic benefits of airports, saying that Illinois receives $40.9 billion annually in benefits from all its airports, with the Lansing Municipal Airport alone providing $20.6 million per year and Bult Field Airport near Monee providing $1.9 million per year.