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Roger Driskell, deputy director for the Illinois Department of Transportation commented:
With some road projects, you can say we're going to build four miles and leave it at that. But with this, you can't build a runway and say we'll build the tower 10 years later. You basically got to have all that money up front and then allow for expansion later.
State officials scheduled one-on-one sessions Tuesday and Wednesday with seven investors or companies that have expressed interest in a public-private partnership. The meetings were designed to gather feedback on the project's financial feasibility, Driskell said.
The total project investment is estimated at US$700 million.
In early August IDOT issued a Request for Information (RFI) to seek input from firms interested in a public-private partnership to build and operate the South Suburban Airport.
The latest RFI comes after the state completed the US$34 million purchase of Bult Field on June 30. The airport sits on 288 acres in the footprint of the South Suburban Airport and includes a 5,000-foot runway, hangars, a terminal and additional surrounding land. The purchase was possible by a US$100 million commitment for land acquisition for the South Suburban Airport from Governor Quinn's Illinois Jobs Now! capital construction program.
The state has acquired almost 3,600 of the 5,800 acres needed for the airport.
In addition to the ongoing land acquisition and procurement efforts, IDOT is working with the Federal Aviation Administration on an airport master plan. All key elements of the master plan have been submitted and are approved, accepted or under review by the FAA. The FAA is also conducting a Tier 2 Environmental Impact Statement to assess impacts during and after construction. Pending completion of the environmental report and approval of the master plan, construction could begin as soon as 2016.