ALNAC Responds to Last STAND Commentary

Guest Commentary
By Algernon H. Penn, Chairman
Friends of ALNAC

Judy Ogalla, Vice President of STAND had a very terse response in her op ed response to me last week. Too bad it was absent of little facts.

Ms. Ogalla stated, “Mayor Craig Johnson and Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr.have stated that if O’Hare is expanded, the proposed Abraham Lincoln National Airport would not be needed.” This is NOT true. Neither has ever made that statement. ALNAC have always said — and the FAA has repeatedly agreed — that even with O’Hare expansion and Midway modernization, the region still needs a third airport. Why? Because the FAA says Chicago still needs more aviation capacity. According to a 1998 FAA study, air travel demand will double in 2015, but if Chicago lacks the capacity to handle it, the region will lose billions of dollars a year from lost commerce, conventions and tourism.

Regarding claims that ALNAC will use tax dollars, again Ms. Ogalla is seriously uninformed or refuses to accept the facts. ALNAC has two world-class developers who have pledged $300 million — of their own money — to design and construct the airport.

In this tough economy, the question is and will always be: “What can the state do to invest in job creation?”

The ALNAC plan will create1,000 construction jobs and 15,000 permanent jobs on opening day according to LCOR and SNC-Lavalin. They should know. Those companies build and manage airports all over the world. The jobs that Ms. Ogalla references were created by IDOT — jobs for planners, consultants, lawyers, and public relations firms. So even in the preparation of this project, badly needed jobs have been created.

Finally there is much talk today about high-speed rail, which I support, but which is many years away and far more costly than an airport. High speed rail will be similar to the interstate highway system, which was built during the 1950’s, meaning it will cost billions and disrupt many communities. Consider that Park Forest residents are very steamed about the disruptions caused by the recent increase in train traffic along the new CN line.

This airport will be a regional airport, not Congressman Jackson’ airport. In this economy, the state has a responsibility to do what it can to create jobs by maximizing opportunities and minimizing public costs. The Abraham Lincoln National Airport will do this.

Ms. Ogalla accused former Mayor John Geils of whining while trying to keep a straight face. I just wonder with the fiction writing that’s been done by members of STAND, it seems that they have lost face… With the truth.