May 12, 2001 Chicago Tribune
Blocking of roadwork backed

Tribune staff reporter
May 12, 2001

A state plan to block road construction near O'Hare International Airport has found favor with staunch opponents of airport expansion, who say the plan still allows construction on the airport's east side.

Bensenville Mayor John Geils warned Friday that new roads west of O'Hare would clear the way for more runways at the airport--and lead to more aircraft noise.

"If you let the camel's nose in the tent, it's only a matter of time," Geils said. "We need a third airport in Peotone" rather than expansion at O'Hare.

Illinois Transportation Secretary Kirk Brown announced this week that he would block $1.7 billion in planned road improvements around O'Hare until officials decide whether new runways will be built on the airport's west side.

Brown said the state cannot determine where to put the roads until runway issues are resolved.

Craig Johnson, mayor of Elk Grove Village, which also borders O'Hare, agreed.

"The main need is western access to O'Hare and our community supports that," Johnson said. "But there's really nothing we can do until we resolve this [runway] issue."

Supporters of more O'Hare roadwork say the problem of congestion around the airport must be addressed now.

"We are just choked with traffic," said Laurie Stone, president of the Greater O'Hare Association, a group of about 1,000 businesses around the airport. "There is a huge amount of lost time and lost fuel and lost productivity."

Brown's pronouncement this week blocks two proposed road projects in the O'Hare area, Illinois Department of Transportation spokesman Dick Adorjan said Friday.

The first is a proposal to build a ring road around the western edge of the airport, near where new runways could be built. The second is a plan to extend Thorndale Avenue into O'Hare from the west, extending the Elgin-O'Hare Expressway.

Adorjan said the ban wouldn't stop work on the east side of O'Hare. For example, the ban wouldn't affect IDOT's work in Rosemont to extend Balmoral Avenue to Mannheim Road, which is virtually complete, Adorjan said.

The ban also would not affect plans to construct a new system of ramps and roads along Interstate Highway 190, the main artery to the airport from the east.

[Chicago ATC News]