The Herald-News: U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger not buying Monee airport proposal

Kinzinger says Rockford is Chicago’s third airport

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, three U.S. congressmen, 15 state lawmakers and several Chicago-area city officials recently signed a letter encouraging Gov. J.B. Pritzker to support an airport in Monee.

U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Channahon, drafted his own letter to the governor, however, writing that the investment would be better spent on other projects in the state.

Suburban lawmakers have asked Pritzker for $150 million in his upcoming capital plan to build infrastructure to support the proposed airport on the site of Bult Field, a small airport in Monee.

The BNSF and Union Pacific railroads have intermodal facilities in the area, and the airport is being envisioned primarily as a cargo airport, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The letter said it will “make Illinois a bigger, more vital player in the global e-commerce explosion” and make Chicago more competitive.

Kinzinger said the efforts strive to bring a “third airport” to Chicago, but Chicago already has a worthy third airport in Rockford, which is in his congressional district.

“This is a disastrous proposal, @GovPritzker,” Kinzinger tweeted Wednesday. “Why waste that kind of money when you already have a 3rd airport here in #Rockford? The future of aviation is in #IL16, so make the investment @FlyRFD, where it’ll be most successful as a cargo hub and job creator.”

Talks of a South Suburban Airport have been on and off again for 30 years, Kinzinger said.

“When it was first proposed, it might have made sense given the overall number of commercial airline companies in the United States,” Kinzinger wrote in a letter to Pritzker.

Kinzinger said the number of commercial airline companies has dwindled, reducing the need for more airports. Secondly, the Rockford airport grew from a small, regional airport into “one of the most up-and-coming airports in America.”

He said Rockford serves as a hub for the UPS. He said the airport broke ground in July on a 120,000-square-foot expansion of an existing cargo terminal to support increased Amazon volume, which will yield about 400 more jobs.

In 2018, 2.1 billion pounds of cargo passed through the facility, making it the 22nd busiest airport in the nation in terms of cargo, he said.

He also said Rockford had 231,832 passengers in 2018, an increase of 3% from the previous year.

Proponents of a South Suburban Airport also are calling for a new interchange on Interstate 57, along with road and utility upgrades – projects they said are necessary even without an airport. Kinzinger said Rockford already has infrastructure in place.

“The state of Illinois does not have the financial resources to take care of its most urgent infrastructure needs, and we should not throw good money after bad,” Kinzinger wrote.

 

The original article was posted by The Ottawa Times and reposted in The Herald-News here.