Quinn OKs bill for Peotone airport, DePaul arena - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Quinn OKs bill for Peotone airport, DePaul arena

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(Flickr/Erwyn Van Der Meer) (Flickr/Erwyn Van Der Meer)
CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Gov. Pat Quinn has signed a wide-ranging bill that'll allow state officials to push forward on a third Chicago area airport.

Efforts on the project have been stalled for decades because of disagreements about local control.

"I think we have to invest in our roads, our bridges, our rail system, our water systems and our airports," Quinn said. "And that creates jobs, which creates income that gives tax revenue to the State of Illinois. You can't forget that."

Some might argue with his economics, but none did in the crowd that gathered at Governor's State University to watch Pat Quinn sign Senate Bill 20 into law.

The bill authorized the Illinois Department of Transportation to spend about $70 million to continue land acquisition. The construction will be a public-private partnership and Quinn's office estimates it'll create 14,000 jobs when operational.

The bill also allows for the Mississippi River's Port of East St. Louis, for a new fertilizer plant in Douglas County, new property tax breaks for farmland across the state, authorization for a new sports and convention arena near Chicago's McCormick Place, plus a grant of power to the Illinois Department of Transportation to build an airport near South Suburban Peotone.

At the bill signing, Quinn focused only on the airport. He says the longtime vision is becoming a reality.

"Being the representative of the third airport, I can't wait to get the first shovel in and see the planes get off the ground," Kankakee Rep. Kate Cloonan says.

Many obstacles remain, though, for a project that has languished on the drawing board for decades. The state has acquired only about half of the 5,800 acres needed for initial work. Hoping to acquire the rest, IDOT will spend $71 million by next year. The state's counting on private investors and airlines to finance the actual construction.

Already in campaign mode for next spring's Democratic primary election, the governor is selling it as a big boost for a part of the state devastated by disinvestment and double digit unemployment.

"The South Suburban Airport is where job creation takes flight. That's what we believe in," Quinn hyped.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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