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FAA approves IDOT's demand forecast for South Suburban Airport

[JUNE 8, 2004]  SPRINGFIELD -- The Illinois Department of Transportation has received approval to proceed with master planning for the South Suburban Airport. The Federal Aviation Administration sent notice that it agrees with the Department of Transportation's forecast for potential market demand and that the department may use the forecasted numbers to proceed with planning and facility requirements.

"This is a crucial step in the process to alleviate air congestion in northeastern Illinois," said Timothy W. Martin, secretary of the Department of Transportation. "Moving forward with the South Suburban Airport, as the city of Chicago modernizes O'Hare, is crucial to meeting the long-term needs of aviation in our nation. When there is a hiccup at O'Hare, the reverberations are felt throughout our nation's aviation system. These two projects are, without a doubt, a national priority."

The Federal Aviation Administration's approval of the demand forecast report for the new SSA airport in Will County is the foundation upon which the airport will be developed. The forecast numbers approved by the FAA on Monday will be used for development of the master plan for the airport, for necessary environmental studies and to create a new timeline for airport development.

"What has been approved shows that the potential for uses of the SSA are great and that an airport in Will County is viable," Martin said. "The market demand is there. We have known this, and now the FAA has confirmed it. We needed to quantify it to move forward, before we invested more time, money and other resources. This document is our proof, and now we can focus on the other important steps in making it a reality."


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The forecast numbers approved by the FAA show that in a very conservative estimate, first-year use of the airport would be nearly 17,000 operations (landings and takeoffs) and could be as great as 60,000. The forecast growth shows that in the fifth year of full operations, the number of landings and takeoffs at the airport could be as high as 85,000.

The lowest-case scenario for commercial passenger boardings is estimated to be almost 20,000 for the first year of operations, growing to 471,000 after five years, based on the lowest case of study. The high-case forecast estimates passenger boardings at nearly 170,000 in the first year, growing to nearly 1 million after five years.

Using these numbers, the Department of Transportation will proceed with the next step in development of the master plan, which addresses the layout and specific requirements of the airport, including runway specifications, terminal size and number of gates.

The FAA letter of approval and more information on the forecast numbers can be found on the Illinois Department of Transportation website at www.southsuburbanairport.com.

[Illinois Department of Transportation
news release]

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