January 8, 2019 Press Release
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Recently, a Chicago Tribune article stated that the political fate of the
South Suburban Airport might be left up to the next Mayor of Chicago. Retiring State
Representative Al Riley states, “This is definitely not the case”. “The framework, politics and
personalities that existed years ago are not today’s realities”. “I was a co-sponsor of Senate Bill
20 of 2013 which provided a framework for the acquisition of land and the technical procedures
necessary to build the airport”, Riley said. “To date, approximately 4,300 of the 5,800 acres of
land in the “Inaugural Footprint” has already been acquired by the State of Illinois.
Riley states, “I would assume that Governor-Elect Pritzker would see the value of this project to
not only the Southland, but the entire region”. “I trust that he would continue the acquisition of
land like the Governors before him”. “It was my understanding that at the end of the Obama
administration, the final technical studies were in progress which would have lead to a “Record
of Decision” by the U.S. Department of Transportation to allow or disallow the construction of
the airport”. “So, all of the jurisdictional battles and involvement from the Mayor of Chicago
that might have existed in the past just does not exist today, in my opinion”, says Riley.
“Frankly speaking, the next Mayor of Chicago will have plenty of local issues to deal with such
as the long term impact of their sale of assets, pension debt, and so forth”. “The least of their
concerns should be South Suburban Airport, which, with other projects, would be a regional
economic development engine”, says Riley.
Nearly a million people live within 30 minutes of the South Suburban Airport. Representative
Riley states, “Despite our growing region, development of the Southland has stalled for years
because of the benign neglect of outside actors”. “These development projects include the Red
Line Extension to 130th, the Illiana Expressway, connecting two states for commerce, and the
Metra South East Service Line to Crete”. “Many of these projects were created in statute and
involved public private partnerships”, Riley said. “So, the framework is there; operationally and
by statute”. “We’ve survived some big hurdles over the years to get to this point.” “There’s
nothing new to be done, and nothing that need to be resurrected, as some have said”, says Riley.
“What’s needed is political will and technical expertise to make these well thought out plans
come to fruition for our region”, states Rep. Riley.
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