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AReCO in the News

Source: Journal & Topics Newspapers

Date: January 12, 2005

Copyright 2005 Journal & Topics Newspapers

Expansion Opponents May Take Legal Steps



The Alliance of Residents Concerning O'Hare is considering legal action as a contingency plan to prevent O'Hare Airport Expansion, according to member Jack Saporito.


Citing concerns that the FAA would likely approve the expansion to promote aviation, group members say that federal courts could trump any FAA decision.


"The Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) Record of Decision (ROD) is not the last process to protect the public from the huge Chicago-O'Hare land grab and taxpayer rip-off," the group reported in a statement. "It has been reported that the FAA's ROD is the final word in the airport expansion process, it is not; the federal

Courts have the final say."


Saporito said he believes that legal action would not be necessary if the public is educated on the environmental effects of airport pollution.


"Once the public is aware of all the problems, there would be such an uprising, I am certain the expansion would die," Saporito said.


The O'Hare Modernization Program would reconfigure the airport's intersecting runways to reduce delays and increase airfield capacity. The plan also proposes a new western terminal facility with more airline gates and parking. According to the city of Chicago, no taxpayer money would be used to fund the program, and fundraising would come out of passenger facility charges, general airport revenue bonds and federal airport improvement program funds. The total cost of the program is projected to be $6.7 billion, a figure that Saporito says is drastically understated.


If the FAA approves the plan as it stands, the airport would attempt to acquire 433 additional acres in Chicago, Des Plaines, Elk Grove Village, and the village of Bensenville. Chicago has stated goals of acquiring property through voluntary negotiations with property owners, but the city can use the right of "eminent domain" to oust property owners under Illinois statute.


The airport submitted its Final Airport Layout Plan to the FAA in October 2003, and an Environmental Impact Statement conducted by the FAA is also underway.


Saporito said alternatives to airport expansion could include a Dept. of Transportation study on total transportation needs, a reinstatement of operational management controls used prior to 2000, and a heavier reliance on other airports to handle transfer traffic. Saporito's long-term solutions include a world class high-speed rail system connected to the airport, as well as cleaner-burning jet engines.