The Elgin-O'Hare tollroad (I-390) will never enter O'Hare

The Chicago Tribune editorial board has acknowledged what opponents of the expansion of O’Hare International Airport had long warned about: The extension of the Elgin-O’Hare tollroad (I-390) won’t for all practical purposes ever enter the airport itself to serve a western terminal that never will be built.

The Chicago Tribune editorial wasn’t quite that certain, but it has raised enough doubts that it called for the construction to stop until the western access and western terminal is certain:

So the city and the airlines have opted to add gate capacity at the existing cluster of terminals, rather than at the airport’s western edge. And as long as that’s the reality at O’Hare, the western access project should be marked with a “Dead-End Ahead” sign.

For an explanation of why the western terminal is a fairy tale, read my earlier post, “In a betrayal of Chicago promise to suburbs, western terminal disappears from O’Hare expansion plans.”

I-390 route showing red as existing and green as expansion. Notice the lack of detail about how the highway is to enter the airport. (Ill. Dept. of Trans.)

I-390 route showing red as existing and green as expansion. Notice the lack of detail about how the highway is to enter the airport. (Ill. Dept. of Trans.)

Yet, despite the evident problems that make the western access/terminal an unrealistic expectation, expansion proponents just keep rolling along as if it’s full speed ahead.  Among them is Tollway Board Chairman Robert Schillerstrom

You should know something about Schillerstrom. He once headed the DuPage County Board, which long had been on record opposing expansion of O’Hare. But in a surprise turnaround, Schillerstrom engineered in secret a reversal of that policy. It was only revealed to the public on the day that the vote was taken by the board to come out in favor of the expansion.

What did Schillerstrom get in return for this betray of his fellow suburbanites and Republicans and delivering the board into the hands of Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley’s pie-in-the-sky expansion? Chairman of the Tollway Board wasn’t a bad land.

So kudos to the Tribune for going where no one else in the media wants to go or has gone: Critically thinking about the value of the multi-billion-dollar expansion whose only benefit so far as been Chicago’s insider pols and contractors and their lackeys.

Related: “Lawyer for Chicago in O’Hare expansion project has ties to DuPage County chief.”

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