Chicago bigshots to South Side and south suburbs: Screw you
today at 2:57 pm
Whether it has been a giant giveaway like the Obama Center defacing Jackson Park or the boondoggle of all boondoggles like O’Hare Airport expansion, Chicago always thinks big.
Big was installed in Chicago’s DNA when famed architect Daniel Burnham advised the city to “Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood.”
Except when it comes to the long proposed and doggedly squashed proposal to build a South Suburban Airport. For that, Chicago insiders and powers-that-be have a different slogan: “Make no big plans.”
They once again thundered their opposition when South Side and south suburban officials resurrected the airport idea after they were encouraged by the construction of a giant Amazon fulfillment center in Matteson and Markham.
It makes sense. The south suburbs and South Side are perfectly located at the nexus of highway and rail connections from the east, west and south. The very reason that Chicago grew from nothing to America’s second largest city practically overnight was its location, the same reason that O’Hare once (but no longer is) the nation’s busiest airport.
Location and access to the rest of the country is what makes the Southland prime property for warehousing and shipping. A cargo airport nearby would be and is an attractive, even necessary, ingredient for growth. Not just for the Southland but for the entire region and state.
Such growth is necessary for the betterment of the South Side and south suburbs, the region’s economic stepchild. If the media, vested interests and politicians really believed that black lives matter, they would be rushing to build the airport.
No need to go over all the reasons here for their opposition, because only one thing really mattered: The south suburban airport was seen as competition for the motherlode of patronage jobs and contracts at O’Hare.
One argument they used and still do is the assertion that no airline is interested in the airport. Baloney. Two decades years ago, airport advocates had discovered two internationally recognized airport and public works developers who wanted to plan, finance, build and operate the airport at no cost to taxpayers.
I get tired of repeating that, but I have to because that fact is completely ignored by the airport opponents. As part of the same argument, they insisted that the airport would never serve passengers. (As if cargo carriers weren’t enough.)
Such an argument is a slap in the face of the couple million people and business that lie within an easier commute to the airport. As if, you know, “those people” don’t fly.
I won’t argue here that the opposition is racist. Because it’s not. The opposition is a matter of raw power and greedy economic interests. It is a product of the fantasy that O’Hare Airport can be expanded and improved enough to strengthen Chicago as the airline and transportation hub that gave it such a leg up over other cities.
The joke’s on us. Chicago, the airlines that run O’Hare and the corporate establishment that benefits from the airport have been fruitlessly trying to improve it for 20 years at an uncounted cost billions of dollars. Still not enough. More billions and decades, we’re told, are needed.
Opponents tell us that the south suburban airport will be a boondoggle. In fact, the biggest boondoggle in Chicago history is despised, overbuilt and obsolete O’Hare Airport. It’s time to stop pouring good money after bad and build a workable, logical facility that will give the Southland the economic boost it needs and deserves.
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