SOUTH HOLLAND | Gov. Pat Quinn and U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly met with officials from across the south suburbs Thursday to discuss mass transportation in the area at Blueberry Field restaurant in South Holland.
The event was organized by state Rep. Thaddeus Jones, D-Calumet City, South Holland Village President Don De Graff and Thornton Township Supervisor Frank Zuccarelli. About 20 mayors attended, Zuccarelli said.
"We covered local railways, the expansion of the local rail, the local bus lines, the third airport, and a number of things all in between," Zuccarelli said after the meeting. "There were different concerns by each of the mayors that live in this area."
The South Suburban Airport in Peotone, in the works since the 1970s, took a step forward in recent weeks as Quinn signed a bill that put state transportation officials in charge of the project and gave them $71 million to purchase land.
"We talked about the current transportation system that we have today and how we view it's future expanding all the way out to the third airport," Zuccarelli said.
The proposed Metra Southeast Service line project was also a point of discussion. The railway would extend south from LaSalle Street in Chicago to Crete, potentially bringing economic development opportunities to the region.
The project — which would cost near $800 million — has been in the works since 2005 and some municipalities have already purchased property along the proposed line. The governor made no promises in regards to the rail line, Zuccarelli said.
"(Quinn's) been working with the Legislature for quite some time and they're trying to work out some agreements that make sense so there wasn't any duplication of services," Zuccarelli said. "At the same time, the ultimate goal by some is the third airport and the other goal is the expansion of the Metra line. There are others that would like to see the expansion of the CTA out into the south suburbs."
Zuccarelli said the cooperation of local, state and federal governments was key to seeing any tangible results.
"We're trying to put our heads together, figure out what's reasonable, how much money is really available, and figure out what's the best opportunity to make this all work," he said. "There's lots of opportunities, but all the great ideas in the world need money to make it happen."
Quinn was unavailable for comment after the event.