Showing posts with label Bult Field. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bult Field. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

C'mon media--do your job! Ask questions!

Chicago media is all abuzz over the fact that the State of Illinois has issued yet another airport layout plan to the Federal Aviation Administration. How is this a news story?

Airport sentiment near Peotone!
What is wrong with the media? Instead of asking real questions, newspapers have merely stated the obvious--printed the press release. After covering this project for 25 years, doesn't the public deserve better than merely printing what some government PR guy throws out there? Isn't it time to ask some real questions?

IDOT submits airport layout plans to the federal government as frequently as some people change their socks. 

In its zeal to put this news out there, the media failed to note that IDOT's new plan is merely a resolution for its own blunder in 2007 when IDOT submitted dueling airport layout plans to the federal agency. 

One was IDOT's own plan, created out of a 1994 decision by Gov. Jim Edgar for state sponsorship of a new airport at the Peotone site, two years after it was rejected by regional consensus. The map submitted was the result of numerous revisions of the reduced, readjusted, and overall massaged airport layout plan that had been rejected two years prior because there was no regional consensus on the project.

Perhaps that is the question the media should be asking--how does the state plan to achieve a regional consensus for the Peotone Airport?

The other configuration the state submitted in 2007 was for the layout plan conceived by the Abraham Lincoln National Airport Commission (ALNAC), the self-appointed airport authority spearheaded by U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. with a little help from the state’s consultant EarthTech, formerly TAMS.

At that time, the FAA rejected both plans and told IDOT to come back with just one. So, apparently it took five years for the agency to whittle down the differences in the two nearly identical plans,  in order to submit one of them. 

Perhaps the real news is: why does it take so long for the State of Illinois to draw a map when they have had their crayons for decades. But the media didn't bother to ask that question either.

Some news outlets wrongly make the claim that the submission of another airport layout plan is somehow a sign that Gov. Pat Quinn is moving the airport forward. Like most of what has fueled the Peotone  Airport since its inception, this is a mighty big assumption. The fact is that the project has been on the drawing board since 1985. Every governor since Big Jim Thompson, Jim Edgar, George Ryan, Rod Blagojevich, and now Quinn has given it lip service, so how is this newsworthy? Yet, the reality is that the Peotone Airport is nothing more than a stack of yellowing papers on a shelf.

One component of the state's layout plan is the general aviation component of the Peotone Airport. How does the state plans to reconcile the existence of Bult Field, a privately-owned FAA-sanctioned general aviation airport, into which lies inside the Peotone Airport fence?

Back in 2008, IDOT reportedly assumed that Bult Field would be acquired and incorporated into the proposed airport. It is expected that existing facilities at Bult Field would serve the General Aviation (GA) needs at SSA (South Suburban Airport). Major improvements have been made to Bult Field since it was developed in October 2004. The cost to acquire that airport would drastically increase the cost of developing the proposed airport. How does the state plan to acquire and pay for a private airport for its own purposes? Is Bult Field even for sale?

Maybe reporters should ask IDOT what it plans to do with an airfield that airlines are opposed to and say they will not use. How does the governor plan to entice the airlines to get on board with his newly-reported support for a Peotone Airport? 

Instead of addressing the myriad questions surrounding the state's arguably longest-running boondoggle, the media has opted to report, practically word-for-word, the state's press release. It was only later in the story that throwing $70 million toward land purchases was mentioned. 

Isn't that more important? Isn't it actual news that the governor of the cash-starved State of Illinois that has been bullying landowners near Peotone for decades wants to continue the process. To me, that is much more newsworthy than merely jumping through a procession of legal hoops to prepare a Master Plan for an airport that may never be built anyway.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Jesse Jackson Jr.'s jive talk continues

, member of the United States House of Represe...
Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr.

Jesse Jackson, Jr. continues to make the claim that he can deliver a shovel-ready airport at no cost to the taxpayers. He refers to the unsuccessful project that dates back to 1968 and is known as the Peotone Airport. The State of Illinois calls it the South Suburban Airport. Jackson calls it the Abraham Lincoln National Airport. Make no mistake, none of these projects are close to becoming a shovel-ready project at no cost to the taxpayers.
In a recent rah-rah speech in Kankakee, at the southern reaches of Jackson’s newly-drawn second congressional district at a meeting of the NAACP, Jackson made this outlandish statement.
I’d like Jackson to explain how a project could be shovel ready when more than half of the land needed for a new airport remains in the hands of landowners unwilling to sell to the state. Or, how does he consider a project shovel-ready when it hasn’t even gained approval by the Federal Aviation Administration? And how can it be shovel-ready when a general aviation airport that is privately owned and sanctioned by the FAA—Bult Field--already operates in the footprint of the airport Jackson wants to build?
I’d also like Jackson to explain how his pet project would not cost the taxpayers. Oh he claims to have developers who will put up their own money to build the Peotone Airport. But the construction of the facility is hardly the only cost to building an airport—one in the cornfields 40 miles south of the City of Chicago. It would be a facility surrounded by rural land which is serviced by well and septic systems. It would be located amid creeks and streams that tend to overflow during heavy rain. Who will pay to build the infrastructure needed to service an airport in the cornfields if not the taxpayers?
How does Jackson explain buying the remainder of the land, if not at the taxpayers’ expense? Or how can Jackson forget about the tens of millions of dollars already spent on this ill-conceived, folly. Former Illinois Transportation Secretary Kirk Brown once estimated the state had spent $100 million on the project. That was during his tenure with the state. He retired in 2002. I can guarantee the bills certainly didn’t retire with him. The state has continued to wrack up costs for state-sponsored studies, land acquisition, legal fees, consultants, public relations work, etc.
That was just the past. Future cost to the taxpayers will continue to be thrown at this dead-end project in the form of infrastructure, additional land acquisition costs, and guaranteed legal fees to fight all the innocent landowners who have been under pressure to sell their property since this project began.
It all sounds like the same kind of jive talk we’ve been hearing for years. I don’t believe it for one moment.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Bult Field to be incorporated into Peotone airport

While the Illinois Department of Transportation finally delivered its preferred layout plan for the proposed Peotone airport to the Federal Aviation Administration, it assumed the acquisition of Bult Field, the newly-renovated general aviation airport in eastern Will County along Kedzie Avenue.

That was news to the airport’s owner Jim Bult, who said he knew nothing about IDOT’s plan to acquire and incorporate his airport into the state’s airport.

Bult said Friday afternoon, just after the airport layout plan had been delivered to the Federal Aviation Administration, that he has had no talks with IDOT.

“There have been no offers to buy the property, nor any discussions about a joint use, or anything whatsoever,” he said.

“It is interesting that something is speaking that loudly for me,” Bult said of the airport layout plan, concluding, “I know nothing about it.”

The state’s report notes that the improvements at Bult Field, a new 5,000-foot long paved runway and substantial aircraft parking and storage space, have caused them to update their GA facility requirements in their master plan.

Ironically, it is the existence of Bult Field that caused IDOT to have to rethink the airport layout in the first place.

IDOT now makes the following assumption, as stated in the narrative of its plan.

“IDOT anticipates that Bult Field will be acquired and incorporated into the Inaugural Airport. It is expected that existing facilities at Bult Field will serve the General Aviation (GA) needs at SSA(South Suburban Airport). The airfield improvements that have been recently undertaken at Bult Field resulted in a significant increase in the number of based aircraft. As a result General Aviation/Corporate Aviation forecasts will be updated to reflect the changes that have occurred at Bult Field since October 2004.”

Under this scenario, the better Bult Field does in terms of a business — housing airplanes and providing increased take-offs and landings — the more IDOT will use its numbers to justify building an airport.

IDOT’s assumption is the latest in a long line of issues between the state and Jim Bult. Like other landowners in the area, Bult has received letters threatening condemnation. And, like other landowners, he ignored them, because like them, he is not a willing seller.

Bult bought the former Sanger Field, a small general aviation airstrip in disrepair, in 2004. He planned to make the improvements needed to house additional aircraft, including his own, as well as build a 5,000-foot concrete runway.

By July, 2006 he had completed all of the preliminary approvals he needed from Will County. But, at the eleventh hour, former Transportation Secretary Timothy Martin filed an objection. U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. did not object, but he made it known that he opposed Bult’s plan. No legal action was taken and Bult was free to proceed with upgrading the facility.

The work was completed by the end of the year. In mid-December, Bult sent the first of many letters to IDOT to request a final inspection.

It wasn’t until five months later that the state performed its obligatory final inspection. And, another month went by before a certificate of occupancy was issued allowing Bult to open the airport for business.

In addition to Bult Field, another reason IDOT had to rework its layout, was to satisfy federal agencies’ concerns about impacts on Black Walnut Creek.

IDOT has made numerous other changes since submissions of the layout plan in September 2005 and December 2005.

To diminish the impacts on Black Walnut Creek, the updated plan places the terminal complex approximately 2,300 feet east and 1,800 feet north of the runway.

Other highlights of the configuration of the inaugural airport include direct access to and from Interstate 57, by a new interchange and access road connecting the interstate to the terminal. It will go over Route 50 and the Illinois Central Railroad. Cargo access will be provided via Route 1 at Eagle Lake Road.

Access to the general aviation area will be via Offner and Crawford.

An air traffic control tower is expected to be located in a secured area, relatively central from the runway ends, approximately 2,600 feet north of the runway’s centerline. Access will be provided from Crawford via a new access road. The FAA will determine the location and final elevation.

Aircraft rescue, firefighting and snow removal complex will be fairly central and approximately 1,600 feet north of the runway. The fuel facility will be located within a secure area at the east side of the airfield to the north of the cargo facilities.

Beyond the Inaugural airport, the future layout plan will include up to six parallel east-west runways capable of accommodating four simultaneous approaches.

Support facilities can be developed along Eagle Lake Rd.

The ultimate size of the inaugural airport is 5,200 acres with an eye on the ultimate site at 20,032 acres.