Governor Pat Quinn today announced that Illinois is taking an important next step toward building a new airport in Chicago's Southland, reported the Chicago Tribune. Gathering at what was formerly Bult Field – a 288-acre private airfield airport – located in the Will County town of Monee, Illinois, a new sign was unveiled revealing the renaming of the airfield to the "South Suburban Airport." In attendance for the unveiling were Governor Quinn, Rep. Robin Kelly of Illinois' 2nd Congressional district, State Senator Toi Hutchinson (D-Olympia Fields) and State Representative Al Riley (D-Hazel Crest) and many other elected officials from the Southland.
The new "South Suburban Airport will serve as as the airport's first runway. The state of Illinois recently purchased the Bult Field for $34 million, and according to a Chicago Tribune report, the state has spent $76 million for more than 3,500 acres of the 5,800 needed for the first phase of the large commercial airport. The purchase was made possible by a $100 million commitment for land acquisition for the "South Suburban Airport" from Governor Quinn’s "Illinois Jobs Now!" capital construction program.
The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), at the direction of Governor Quinn, will host an industry forum next month with private developers, air carriers and potential airport tenants to create a business plan and strategy to complete the project as quickly and efficiently as possible. The next step will be a Sept. 23 meeting in Joliet.
Bult Field sits on 288 acres in the footprint of the "South Suburban Airport" project area and includes a 5,000-foot runway, hangars, a terminal and additional surrounding land. Bult Field will remain a general aviation facility under state ownership. Once the South Suburban Airport is up and running, Bult Field will become part of the overall facility and continue to fulfill the area’s general aviation needs.
"Bult Field and the upcoming industry forum are further proof that the South Suburban Airport is closer than ever to becoming an economic engine for Illinois," Governor Quinn said. "The upcoming industry forum will be an opportunity for Illinois’ bright minds to get together to ensure this historic project can land on-time and on-target. This project, as well as the Illiana Expressway, are top priorities of my administration and will help create jobs and unlock the true economic potential of the south suburban region."
"Today I join Governor Quinn, State Senator Hutchinson, and State Rep. Riley, and dozens of municipal officials from across the south suburbs and Will County to celebrate the acquisition of Bult Field for the construction of the South Suburban Airport," U.S. Representative Robin Kelly (D-2nd) said. "This project will create the economic development and jobs the Southland needs to jump start the middle class."
"The Southland shows its support for the airport and demonstrates our determination to make it a reality," Kelly said. "The purchase of Bult Field gives us a working airfield and a new marketing tool to promote our regional economy. Because of the leadership of Governor Quinn, we’re optimistically looking at a 2016 groundbreaking. With the exciting prospects of a new airport and the Illiana coming soon, the Chicago Southland is poised to become a major player in the global economy."
"The South Suburban airport is a promising dream that is finally coming to fruition," State Senator Toi Hutchinson (D-Chicago Heights) said. "Each step taken towards its completion is a step towards thousands of manufacturing, logistics and transportation jobs, as a well as an economic engine that will light a fire throughout the entire state and country as a whole."
The project, according to the governor's office, is expected to create more than 11,000 jobs during construction. Once the airport is open, thousands more jobs will be created to support airport and airline operations, along with spin-off opportunities in trucking and logistics, cargo, restaurants, hotels and retail establishments.
In addition to the ongoing land acquisition and procurement efforts, IDOT is working with the Federal Aviation Administration on an airport master plan. All key elements of the master plan have been submitted and are approved, accepted or under review by the FAA. The FAA is also conducting a Tier 2 Environmental Impact Statement to assess impacts during and after construction. Pending completion of the environmental report and approval of the master plan, construction could begin as soon as 2016.
For more information on South Suburban Airport, visit www.southsuburbanairport.com.