Economic leader says south suburban airport needed
By Cindy Wojdyla Cain email@example.com May 10, 2012 8:21PM
Will County Center for Economic Development CEO and President John Greuling
Updated: June 12, 2012 8:17AM
MOKENA — John Greuling has a message for the mayors of Chicago, Rockford and Gary.
“Why don’t we sit down and talk about regional aviation services for the next 50 years in the Chicago area and try and understand what the role of a south suburban airport could play?”
Greuling, president and CEO of the Will County Center for Economic Development, made his comment on Thursday after he touched on the airport topic during an early-morning CED event called “Growing Will County: Projects of Regional and National Significance” at DiNolfo’s Banquets.
Recently, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said a south suburban airport wouldn’t be necessary if O’Hare International Airport gets another runway, as he has proposed.
Also, Mike Dunn, director of Rockford International Airport wrote a letter to the editor to a Chicago newspaper saying airports in Chicago, Gary and Rockford could handle future air traffic. United Continental Holdings Inc. CEO Jeff Smisek also weighed in saying the south suburban airport was not needed.
But Greuling said there is enough of a customer base in the south suburban airport region to justify the project.
“We’re not stupid, thinking we’re going to steal traffic from O’Hare,” Greuling said. “That was never our thought.”
The south suburban airport area has a huge population of its own, he said.
“What’s wrong with that market?”
Greuling said some kind of point-to-point passenger service or cargo operation could be operating out of the proposed south suburban airport in five to 10 years. So far the state has spent $34 million to purchase 2,471 acres of land for the project, but the FAA hasn’t given the airport final approval and no governance plan has been adopted.
Also Thursday, Greuling discussed the Illiana Expressway planning process. Recently, a preferred route was chosen for the road, which would stretch from Interstate 65 in Indiana to Interstate 55 in Will County.
However, some officials in eastern Will County and south suburban cities would like a more northerly route because it would be beneficial to their towns, Greuling said. So the more costly option is being looked at again, and it’s all part of the process, he added.
“To say that politics is not going to play a role in the selection of this corridor is very naive,” he said.
For the CED’s full report, visit www.willcountyced.com.