April 18, 2001 Daily Herald
O'Hare opponents, backers make cases before lawmakers
By John S. Sharp Daily Herald Staff Writer
Posted on April 18, 2001

SPRINGFIELD - Lawmakers heard from opponents and supporters of expanding O'Hare International Airport on Tuesday, as the two sides try to convince the General Assembly that their position is the right one.

O'Hare supporters said delays at the airport are not as bad as state transportation officials reported earlier this month. The Illinois Department of Transportation reported on April 3 that 109,177 flights out of O'Hare were delayed in 2000.

Kitty Freidheim, managing deputy commissioner for the Chicago Department of Aviation, told members of the Illinois House Aviation Committee that only 57,545 flights were delayed.

Meanwhile, those opposing any new runways at O'Hare said there's already too much noise and air pollution at the airport, both of which would get worse with more runways.

Joseph Karaganis, a lawyer representing the Suburban O'Hare Commission, contends that O'Hare should pay for soundproofing all homes and schools affected by noise from the airport. The commission is a network of suburbs that oppose O'Hare expansion.

"Noise problems are far more extensive than being disclosed by Chicago," Karaganis told committee members.

The aviation committee is a new panel created by House Speaker Michael Madigan, a Chicago Democrat. Tuesday's meeting was viewed as a chance for both sides in the O'Hare debate to make their cases to lawmakers on the panel. There were no votes or decisions made.

Next week, the same committee will hear a similar debate on the proposed airport near Peotone in Will County.

This all follows Gov. George Ryan's renewed push to construct the third Chicago-area airport. In his budget address in February, Ryan announced the state would begin buying land for the airport, which he sees as the solution to air traffic congestion at O'Hare. Nearly $30 million has been socked away in past state budgets for land buys. Ryan is asking lawmakers to approve another $15 million.

Many Chicago Democrats, including Mayor Richard Daley, would rather see new runways at O'Hare and argue the airlines won't use the Peotone airport.

Daily Herald State Government Writer John Patterson contributed to this report.

[Chicago ATC News]