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Peotone airport

A vandalized sign stands in 2010 on an empty stretch of land where homes were razed to make way for the proposed South Suburban Airport. 

MONEE, Illinois — The sign at the entrance to Bult Field, the small general aviation airport situated among the farm fields of southeast Will County, welcomes visitors to “The Future Site of the South Suburban Airport.”

While that statement might seem to have missed the apparent dormancy into which that project, along with other major transportation projects in Illinois, has fallen, state transportation officials insist the airport is moving forward.

At the Chicago Southland Economic Development Corp.’s quarterly meeting at Bult Field on Friday, the Illinois Department of Transportation Division of Aviation’s interim director told a gathering of about 100 local officials and business people that the airport project is “still alive. It’s still a project.”

Steven Young said the state has acquired 145 parcels, covering about 4,400 acres, including Bult Field itself.

“This shows you our commitment,” Young said. “We have three parcels left to fill out our nonrural land acquisition area.”

Many of the now state-owned properties are being leased, including 35 residential properties and more than 4,000 acres of farmland.

Young also said the state is working with the Federal Aviation Administration on a master plan, several components of which have recently been finalized.

According to the airport project website, southsuburbanairport.com, a Financial Implementation Plan, Financial Feasibility Plan, Airport Layout Plan and Airport Plans Report have all been submitted to the FAA for review.

The four reports describe the phasing of airport development, the financial options available to build and operate the airport, the geographic boundaries of it and the nature of airport facilities and structures necessary for the airport.

The South Suburban Airport, commonly referred to as Peotone airport, would be built as a public-private partnership, Young said.

The controversial airport project has found opposition among many residents of the rural area. Others question whether it would generate the aviation business its proponents suggest, including commercial passenger service. A South Suburban Airport would also compete with the Gary/Chicago International Airport for the mantle of “Chicago’s third airport.”

Young said the state’s freeze of major transportation projects, which also put the proposed Illiana Expressway under moratorium, has impacted the airport project, but, “we haven’t stopped. We’re moving along with the portions we can.”

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Transportation Reporter

Andrew covers transportation, real estate, casinos and other topics for The Times business section. A Crown Point native, he joined The Times in 2014, and has more than 15 years experience as a reporter and editor at Region newspapers.