CHICAGO -- An Illinois-Indiana committee has decided that a new airport should be built for the Chicago area and said it will choose a site by Jan. 24.
Donald Corinna, program manager for the bistate committee, the Policy Committee for the Site Selection of a Supplemental Airport in the Chicago Area, said the 11 members voted unanimously to build an airport. The panel is made up to officials from the two states and Chicago.
The committee is considering five sites: Lake Calumet on Chicago's southeast side; the current Gary, Ind., Regional Airport; Kankakee and Peotone, both outside of Chicago; and Beecher, which is on the Illinois-Indiana border.
On Monday, the four-member indiana delegation pushed the committee to vote for the Gary site, but the four Illinois and three Chicago members abstained from voting on it.
While the Illinois members have professed neutrality, Mayor Richard Daley of Chicago has pushed for the Lake Calumet site. Earlier this month, the major unvelled a revised feasibility study for an airport at Lake Calumet to counter studies conducted for the committee by consultants that pegged the cost at $18.5 billion -- the highest among the five sites.
Mayor Daley's latest study cited a price tag of $10 billion, as well as the need to issue $8.7 billion of revenue bonds between 1996 and 2014 if all three proposed phases of a Lake Calumet airport are completed. Phase one would begin in 1992. Bond proceeds would be used to supplement cash flow from other sources, including federal aviation and road funds, state grants, user fees, and passenger facility charges, according to the study.
Chicago officials have said the city's experience in financing and operating O'Hare International Airport, along with its ability to collect a passenger facility charge and the proximity of Lake Calumet to downtown should give that site an edge over its competitors.
Indiana officials also put out their own study that places the cost of the Gary airport at $6 billion, compared to the $9 billion projected in the financial feasibility study Price Waterhouse conducted.
The rural sites were given price estimates that ranged from $3.7 billion to $4 billion in the Price Waterhouse study.
Mr. Corinna said while the committee scheduled a vote on the site selection for Jan. 24, the committee could meet before then as long as the public is given 48-hours notice.