October 15, 2002

The Peotone Airport Proposal

Category: Urban Planning

CHICAGO: The Background: Chicago's two airports are way overcrowded. So much so, in fact, that the slightest inclemental weather in Chicago can cripple air traffic throughout the entire continent for days at a time. The largely Democratic city of Chicago, as well as all the airlines, feel the solution is to massively expand and restructure O'Hare. The neighbors of O'Hare, who tend to wield large amounts of weath and political clout, are hell-bent on derailing this plan, as is the Republican state government who have always been at odds with Chicago on political principal.

The state government and other opponents of OHare expansion want to construct a new airport on farmland about 40 miles south of Chicago, near a town called Peotone. Constucting a new airport is not a bad idea in principal if it wern't for a few glaring facts:

Peotone is so far from Chicago (further than Stansted is from London) that it's desireability will never make it more than a deeply begrudging alternative to O'Hare and Midway. Additionally, the weathlier areas of Chicagoland (where most flight traffic comes from) are all on the north side of the city, at least 60 minutes driving time from Peotone. High speed rail service might solve this problem, but there are no plans for it to be incorporated into the initial design (as is typical of American development). Furthermore, the principal air carriers in Chicago, American Airlines and United, have already declared that they will never serve such an inconvienent airport unless hell freezes over, or the government forces them to. This leaves the discount airlines, but they are well entrenched, and quite happy at Midway Airport which incidentally is about to complete a major modernisation and expansion of its own.

So what will Peotone become? Why is this idea so utterly stupid? Peotone Airport will be nothing more than a horrifically expensive white elephant that will never see significant traffic. Billions of taxpayer dollars will be spent on decimating thousands of tranquil and productive acres of farmland that will be paved over for the airport, and thousands more that will be paved over by the inevitably nightmarish landscape of fast-food eateries, cheap motels, gas-stations and other junk that will spring up. Smells suspiciously of pork as well.

But, on the contrary, a massive expansion of O'Hare is not the answer either. No one in the state of Illinios seems to admit that the obvious solution is staring them in the face. There is a way around the problem that will be faster to implement, infinitely cheaper, and ultimately far more successful: There are no fewer than three underused alternative airports in the region that are begging to be developed into Chicago's third airport. The quickest option, in Gary, Indiana, is actually closer to Chicago than Peotone. Why isn't Gary being considered? Because Illinois polititions would rather writhe in stalemate than let a neighboring state cash in, and Indiana politicians appear to be either asleap at the wheel, or too cheap to build up Gary by themselves. Shame on them as well. The state of Indiana could reap immense benefits by heading off Peotone before it even breaks ground.

If Indiana can't do it, another promising alternative is Milwaukee's airport. It's quite a bit further away than Peotone, but as it lies to the north of Chicago, so it's not much further from the wealthier areas than is Peotone, also a little over 60 minutes driving time. A high-speed rail link, to this well established airport would cost a fraction of the cost of building an entire airport from scratch. Wisconsin could do themselves alot of good by improving rail links to Chicago that stop at the Milwaukee Airport.

The final alternative, about the same distance as Milwaukee, is Rockford Illinois. Why this virtually vacant airport hasn't been seriously considered is beyond me, as it happens to be in the right state. I can only assume it's the distance factor and Rockford's lack of passenger base in the immediate area.

Anyways, you don't have to take my word for it. Check out what a Google search turns up on the issue: [link here] There are plenty of pro and con articles to peruse.

Posted by Nick at October 15, 2002 06:50 PM


I am glad to see the word spreading about this
The governor George ( LYAN ) Ryan, is trying
to use Eminant Domain to kick the people off of
their land.
A proposed project, that has no federal funding,
the FAA has not aproved, the airlines said they
wont use.
I would destroy almost 24,000 acres of farmland, and rural comunities.
I could go on for ever, but her are some good
web-sites to check out.
Please become a member of STAND
( shut this airport nightmare down ),
addresses are on the web-sites.
www.nothird airport.com

Posted by: Ken Hall on November 6, 2002 04:41 AM

I think that the Peotone ariport is not needed. Peotone may be just cornfeilds but what's the point of 3,000 people out of the town where there life is so someone can put an airport that won't be used? think about it.

Posted by: Amanda on November 7, 2002 07:44 PM

I've got an idea. How about the states of Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana setting up a regional aviation authority which would work with the FAA and the airlines to distribute air traffic around the region. During this time of scarce resources the three (3) state budgets could all use a little help and distributing take-offs and landing to underutilized facilities could save millions.

Further, moving power from Chicago to the three (3) states would help eliminate the current "logjam". Rather than having two (2) almost equally matched political enities struggling for power the regional enity would be able to determine what's best for the region and could move quickly to implementation.

Furthermore, with the extra capacity available now the congression problems at O'Hare could be quickly solve at very little cost. Solving the problem of air traffic congession at O'Hare is not a technical problem; It is a political problem which can be quickly be resolved through regional cooperation.

By the way I maintain a website for the Bensenville Community Public Library with information on historical as well as current O'Hare and would be interested in your comments. The website is: http://ohare.bensenville.lib.il.us, and my e-mail is les

Posted by: Lester G. Park on March 13, 2003 05:56 PM

Peotone is way too far. Now Peotone could be effectively used for a transfer airport. If United and American would route all the passengers to Peotone, for whom Chicago is not the final destination this would be a great option. It would free up space at O'Hare for other airlines.

This project has been in discussion since 1967. Another overlooked item is the race factor. The South Suburbs of Chicago is black and poor. It was once the industrial hub. It is where you went to work. Till 1970 the BIG suburbs were in the south. There was no Orland Park, Naperville was less than 30,000. Then the steel industry crashed.

Gary is too small to be effective and is in a bad neighborhood to boot. It would never be effective. Milwaukee is too far. So is Rockford.

Chicago does have Lake Calumet. Fill it in and build the airport there like Mayor Daley wanted. So a people get displaced. This is why NOTHING gets done in Chicago. Just do it.

Posted by: Mark on October 25, 2003 10:40 AM

The Peotone project should never have gotten sujested in the first place. Sure Chicago is having air taffic problems, but Peotone is not the place to another airport. If O'Hare is expanded upon, their will be no use for another airport. If O'Hare is not expanded upon, please put the airport somewhere where it will be usefull. Even if the Peotone airport somehow were to become significant, there would be no way of handling all the traffic because it is NOT a commerce type of city, thus the need for more tax dollars to build highways, and expand roads in a part of the country that should have been farming country in the first place. If an airport is built, there are plenty of good places IN Chicago to put it. How about the old pullman area?

Posted by: Joe on November 20, 2003 03:13 AM

First of all, wealthy north shore people are not the only ones who travel by air in this area. Considering that the fastest growing area in the Chicagoland area is Will County (Joliet, Plainfield, Bolingbrook, etc...) and places like Naperville and Aurora--which is where the Peotone airport would have closer proximity to it seems that arguements for keeping options close to the north are flawed. Don't forget that most of this growth includes middle class families with money to spend on travel and GASP!!! some of these people actually even may travel for a living!

The city of Chicago still has no west entrance to get to O'Hare and Midway's Cicero Ave is typically no fun to deal with. Nevermind the fact that most suburbanites don't live in Chicago because that is not where they prefer to be. As for the other smaller airports, they are just too far from the fastest growing areas of Chicagoland (which does NOT include the city of Chicago by the way).

United and American don't want to be involved? Fine, these are the same airlines who need bailouts in the form of our tax dollars. They can have O'Hare and smarter more efficient airlines such as Southwest would fly out of a Peotone airport because they know what I'm already describing here.

It's very simple, the Daley crime family survives on power and keeping the air travel industry all to Chicago only adds to that power. The downstate politicians want to take as much of that power away for themselves as well. What it ultimately comes down to is will the people come if they build it? I think they will, and that will free up some of those parking spaces at O'Hare and Midway for the rest of you.

Posted by: Grant on January 10, 2004 10:53 PM

Peotone is the logical choice for an airport to support the south suburban sprawl.

Would also alleviate the massive congestion that results from travelers going to O'Hare, Midway, and Chicago in general from the south and west. All of the roads in south and west have outlandish congestion towards these directions in the mornings and away from them in the evenings.

O'Hare can not be built up to adequately support additional air traffic as evidence from recent reports outlining defficiencies in expanding O'Hare. Without the hype from the city of Chicago and the vendors that would reap the fat contracts the plan would have never reached the levels that they have reached.

Expanding O'Hare will not alleviate congestion and provide future growth for the region. It will alleviate all competition and be another waste of tax payer's money!

It's time to make the move to offer an alternative portal for the region for air traffic! Also should put into place responsible requirements on the air industry to improve the pollution created from them so that the communities around these existing airports and new airports are not subjected to the air, and noise pollution from them as well as the corresponding ground transportation they create!

Posted by: dave on January 23, 2004 07:25 PM

The Peotone proposal is just a corrupt land grab by some very powerful investors somewhere in the background of Illinois politics. Seems that any candidate that is elected (Sen. Debbie & Others) because of thier opposition to this "project" flip flops when they get in office and start cheerleading the "airport". Millions have already been wasted with consultants and buying up of land, perhaps they want to keep subdivisions out or devalue the land until they are ready to turn it over to thier cronies CHEAP (probably for subdivisions). An airport will NEVER be built because this is just a smokescreen for something much more corrupt. Also the State and the Airlines are BROKE BROKE BROKE. And it will all come out in the wash. Funny Jesse Jackson is pushing it for Jobs. He collects THOUSANDS in campaign contributions from Unions and Airlines. And the South Suburbs that are backing it will be slashed if it goes in because they will extend I-294 right THROUGH Richton Park, University Park, Matteson, say bye bye to your townhouses!

Posted by: Donna Katz on February 27, 2004 03:56 AM

Those who support Peotone airport should check out Mid America Airport (BLV) outside of St. Louis, built in 1998, it STILL has not attracted a single lease, and it's only carrier is Harrah's who ferries gamblers to Reno and other hell-holes "out west." It's folly to build a new airport when there are two allready, and several nearby. Gary's airport is an ideal choice, granted Gary is known as the "smelliest city in the US," and has negitive connotations for most Chicago residents Despite these objections, people would travel to reach it, besides, Gary is a larger city with it's own customer base, as well as the ability to adapt its infrastructure. Its airport is allready the size of New York's Laguardia and is soon expanding. It is underused, served only by three charter companies (among them Hooter's air flies to Myrtle Beach and Nassau) There is allready a rail link which serves it, (The South Shore Line from Randolph St. Station) whose existing which could easily be upgraded, provided the demand. Plus, who can't like this. . . Free Parking! `

Posted by: Petro on August 3, 2004 11:40 AM
Post a comment