South suburban politicians ask for millions more for long stalled Chicago airport

WGN Investigates

CHICAGO — In March, WGN Investigates showed how the State of Illinois has spent $97 million over 20 years on a proposed third Chicago area airport that has yet to get off the ground.

On Friday, U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly (D-IL 2nd District) said it’s time to change that.

“In some ways, this project reminds me a little of the old TV series the ‘Twilight Zone,’” she said. “We have reached the unexpected twist we are no longer in the middle ground between light and shadow, there is a clear path forward for the first time in decades.”

Kelly has sent a letter to Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker asking for $150 million to move the project forward. The money would be used for a new interchange along I-57 and other infrastructure upgrades. It was signed by House Speaker Mike Madigan and nearly 30 suburban mayors. They said it would be a huge economic boost to a region that’s lagged behind in jobs.

In March, WGN Investigates showed how the state has bought-up farm land, homes and businesses in southeast will county. Nearly 5,000 acres in all. But the only thing to show for it is a small private airport that’s been there for decades.

“Just as Midway and O’Hare spearheaded Illinois’ economic growth over the last century, a south suburban airport will encourage innovation and prosperity for decades to come,” Kelly said. “While it’s taken us decades, and some would say longer, to get here, the time has finally come.”

Pritzker has not said whether he supports a proposed third airport.

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