Is Chicago giving up on O'Hare Airport's promised western terminal?

terminal.jpg

A graphic of O'Hare's promised western terminal. Going, going, gone?

Could be; the hints are flying.

When Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley dropped his cockamamie idea to build an airport in Lake Calumet and came up with an even goofier idea to expand O'Hare Airport, he made a lot of promises, many of which have been broken or unfulfilled.

Among them was a promise to build a western terminal and western access to the airport--to attract support from recalcitrant nearby suburbs with a promise of the kind of development Rosemont has enjoyed on the airport's east side.

Now that promise, along with a ridiculously low expansion price of $6 billion, is about to get blown away. At a press conference celebrating the merger of United and Continental airlines, Daley and his minion, Rosemarie Andolino, appeared to be backing off the western access promise. At least that's the way it appeared to the Crain's Chicago Business reporter who covered the press conference:

Mayor Richard M. Daley wasted no time giving Continental Airlines CEO Jeffery Smiske his sales pitch on the importance of finishing the expansion of O'Hare International Airport, but there were hints that the city might be willing to relax its insistence on a new western terminal. 

...

Mr. Daley and Aviation Commissioner Rosie Andolino both hinted the city might be willing to move ahead with the project without a firm commitment on the terminal, making the deal more palatable to United and American, which have been ready to pay for runways.

"We're going to get runways," Mr. Daley said. "Like anything else, the terminal's in the future, and you negotiate that. This is all that's about. It's not that difficult." 

Once again, the suburbs--like Des Plaines, Park Ridge and DuPage County--that dropped their opposition to the expansion are about to take more pipe. 

The funny thing is that Smiske said he didn't know much about the expansion plan, but that he'd have to learn quickly. After he learns that the expansion plan is dangerous, unworkable and extravagant, and that its much of its cost is being laid on his new airline, Smiske might be asking himself: "Uh oh, what have I gotten myself into." 
Once again, O'Hare opponents such as former Bensenville Mayor John Geils who predicted that the western terminal was a non-starter, may be proven right. And those who were lured by the promise of the terminal and western access, such as Board Chairman Bob Schillerstrom into abandoning their opposition to the expansion, were proven wrong.

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  • I note something here, and it is on the topic of blogging, rather than the substance of the post itself, and I guess came up with your post about Mark Kirk's stand on health care.

    Reading the Crain's article, I see the expression you picked up, but also get the gist of Daley's comment that "the terminal

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