South Suburban Airport Project History
Planning for the South Suburban Airport began in 1984 as a cooperative venture between the states of Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, the city of Chicago and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). After many studies, the airport location alternatives were narrowed to five sites in 1990.
The Illinois Department of Transportation's Division of Aeronautics submitted an environmental assessment to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in March 1998 for the approval of development of an airport at a site in eastern Will County, Ill. Recently, the FAA prepared a Tier 1 environmental impact statement (EIS) for site approval and land acquisition. The FAA issued a record of decision on the Tier 1 EIS in July 2002, which approved the Will County, Ill., site as a technically and environmentally feasible location for the development of a potential future air carrier airport in the south suburban area of the greater Chicago region.
The Division of Aeronautics began purchasing land surrounding the Will County airport site in 2002 with funding of $75 million earmarked by the Illinois FIRST program.
The original Preferred Inaugural Airport Concept was submitted to the FAA for preliminary review in September 2005. Subsequently, the Division of Aeronautics revised this concept to address the objections raised by federal agencies regarding the magnitude of the environmental impacts incurred by the original preferred concept on Black Walnut Creek. In December 2006, the Division of Aeronautics presented two revised airfield concepts to the general public for discussion and input: the Division of Aeronautics' Inaugural Airport Layout Plan and the ALNAC Inaugural Airport Layout Plan. Both of these plans incorporated airfield changes that would diminish the impacts on Black Walnut Creek and address the environmental concerns raised by the federal agencies on the original IAP concept. These plans also reflect the airfield improvements undertaken at Bult Field since the release of the Preferred Inaugural Concept.
In early 2007, both the Division of Aeronautics' Inaugural Plan and the ALNAC plan were submitted to the FAA for review. The FAA declined reviewing two concepts for the Inaugural Airport and returned the plans to the Division of Aeronautics for further consideration and refinement recommending that only one preferred plan should be submitted for review. In the light of these developments, the Division of Aeronautics reexamined all alternatives with the goal of refining and optimizing the airfield configuration in relation to the previously described concepts.In December 2007, the Division of Aeronautics undertook the evaluation of additional concept alternatives for the Inaugural Airport. The primary goal was to evaluate alternative locations for the inaugural runway and select a preferred alternative. On March 7, 2008, the Division of Aeronautics submitted its Preferred Inaugural Airport Configuration to the FAA for review.