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Obama to the Rescue

By Rachelle Bowden in News on Aug 23, 2005 12:52AM

O'Hare is one of the world's busiest airport, and Midway is undoubtably the world's most penned in airport. So what's a growing city gonna do? Build what could be the nation's biggest and most expensive public works program in the middle of Southwest suburban farm country, in the form of an airport.

2005_08_obama.jpgInstead of spending the Senate recess laying on a beach and sipping mai tais, US Senator Barack Obama is trying to mediate the longstanding debate over building a third Chicago area airport in Peotone. Today Obama is meeting with US Representative Jesse Jackson Jr., State Senator Debbie Halverson, and Will County Executive Larry Walsh at the University of Chicago to see if the three can finally reach an understanding on how the possible airport can be developed and operated.

The big disagreement centers around who would be in charge of the new airport. Jackson has stated that Cook County should oversee the airport since the south suburban areas included in his home district will be those to most benefit from the new facility. On the other hand, Halverson and Walsh believe that since the airport will be in Will County, then Will County should have control. Halverson and Walsh have obviously been in touch with leaders from O'Hare area suburbs that are still not happy about Chicago annexing the area that is now O'Hare in 1956.

To make things even more interesting (and isn't that always fun?), Jackson's group is being financed by Elk Grove Village and Bensenville in the suburbs' attempts to stop the further expansion of O'Hare. Obama has previously said that he wants both a Peotone airport and an expanded O'Hare.

Where will the airport madness stop? Even if Obama is able to work out a compromise between the two sides, a new airport is not necessarily guaranteed as the Federal Aviation Administration has not yet given its okay, and funding has not been finalized. Personally, Chicagoist says go ahead and build the new Peotone airport, but don't plan on us traveling 40 miles outside the city to catch our flight to a beach where we will be sipping mai tais.

Thanks, Amy!