A bill moving through Congress that would dramatically expand Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) would also protect tiny Meigs Field (CGX) for the next quarter century. But opposition to the proposal to add runways at O’Hare and build an entirely new airport at Peotone, Ill., could scuttle the deal.
Chicago metropolitan area
AOPA has proposed that the city of Chicago apply for $41 million in federal Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funding to buy Meigs Field from its current owner, the Chicago Park District. AOPA president Phil Boyer said, “The funds will give [the Park District] significant resources to improve existing parks and create a new one on Northerly Island where there’s adequate space for both Meigs and a park to exist.”
At first glance Chicago seems much like a handful of other large metropolitan cities–a pair of airline hubs surrounded by a smattering of general aviation reliever fields. But in Chicago’s case, the center of the airspace is O’Hare International Airport, the world’s busiest (909,530 operations last year). Chicago’s second hub, Midway, relinquished that same title to O’Hare in the 1960s.
Local officials in Bolingbrook, Ill., a Chicago suburb, took measures last month toward upgrading Clow International Airport (1C5) to a general-aviation reliever airport
Chicago-area FBO and maintenance/avionics company J.A. Air Center is building a 108,000-sq-ft facility at Aurora Municipal Airport. The company also operates an FBO at DeKalb Taylor Municipal Airport. The $20 million Aurora facility includes more than 60,000 sq ft of clear-span hangar space and 50,000 sq ft of office space.
On the first Saturday in February, despite record warmth, only two bicyclists and a Chicago police car took to the sloshy paths at what used to be Meigs Field. The former GA airport has been reincarnated as Northerly Island, a wildlife grounds. The former terminal houses exhibits on flowers, birds and a poster of Northerly from 1931. There is no mention, inside or out, that an airport occupied the site.
Higher altitude procedures are now in place to reduce low-altitude flying over Lake Michigan by aircraft operating to and from several satellite airports near Chicago. The Chicago Area Business Aviation Association has been working with the FAA to eliminate ATC’s routine routing of many flights over the lake at 4,000 feet.
The worst-kept secret in Chicago: Mayor Richard Daley is considering privatizing Midway International Airport. Dana Levenson, the city’s CFO, has stated officially that the idea has been discussed but is not under serious consideration. According to Levenson, the idea has surfaced as a way for the city to raise money without increasing taxes. “It’s really just thinking outside the box,” Levenson said.
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