Representative Riley Addresses South Suburban Airport and Southland Infrastructure Projects

January 8, 2019 Press Release

SPRINGFIELD, Ill.– Recently, a Chicago Tribune article stated that the political fate of the South Suburban Airport might be left up to the next Mayor of Chicago.  Retiring State Representative Al Riley states, “This is definitely not the case”.  “The framework, politics and personalities that existed years ago are not today’s realities”.   “I was a co-sponsor of Senate Bill 20 of 2013 which provided a framework for the acquisition of land and the technical procedures necessary to build the airport”, Riley said.  “To date, approximately 4,300 of the 5,800 acres of land in the “Inaugural Footprint” has already been acquired by the State of Illinois.  

Riley states, “I would assume that Governor-Elect Pritzker would see the value of this project to not only the Southland, but the entire region”.  “I trust that he would continue the acquisition of land like the Governors before him”.  “It was my understanding that at the end of the Obama administration, the final technical studies were in progress which would have lead to a “Record of Decision” by the U.S. Department of Transportation to allow or disallow the construction of the airport”.  “So, all of the jurisdictional battles and involvement from the Mayor of Chicago that might have existed in the past just does not exist today, in my opinion”, says Riley.  “Frankly speaking, the next Mayor of Chicago will have plenty of local issues to deal with such as the long term impact of their sale of assets, pension debt, and so forth”.  “The least of their concerns should be South Suburban Airport, which, with other projects, would be a regional economic development engine”, says Riley.  

Nearly a million people live within 30 minutes of the South Suburban Airport.  Representative Riley states, “Despite our growing region, development of the Southland has stalled for years because of the benign neglect of outside actors”. “These development projects include the Red Line Extension to 130th, the Illiana Expressway, connecting two states for commerce, and the Metra South East Service Line to Crete”. “Many of these projects were created in statute and involved public private partnerships”, Riley said.  “So, the framework is there; operationally and by statute”.  “We’ve survived some big hurdles over the years to get to this point.”  “There’s nothing new to be done, and nothing that need to be resurrected, as some have said”, says Riley.  “What’s needed is political will and technical expertise to make these well thought out plans come to fruition for our region”, states Rep. Riley.  

# # #

Positive Train Control

Metra Electric Train

By Dave Dahl – October 27, 2015

A state lawmaker wants to keep the trains on the tracks – and it may take an act of Congress to do it. Dave Dahl reports.  The modern train safety system known as “positive train control” is supposed to be in place this year. That’s unlikely, as Dave Dahl reports.

Carl Sandburg said it: Chicago is the player with railroads and the nation’s freight handler.

But a state lawmaker concerned about transit and transportation says you don’t have to live in the state’s largest city to be concerned about train lines potentially missing a deadline to implement “positive train control,” a back-up safety system.

“People have to get around – I mean, this just can’t happen,” says Al Riley. “and not being able to efficiently move passengers and freight hurts local economies, but it hurts the national economy as well.”

There’s a Dec. 31 deadilne for the controls to be in place. The technology came to the forefront in the wake of a deadly Amtrak crash near Philadelphia in May.

Riley wants Congress to extend the deadline.


Preserving Amtrak funds

There will be an effort in Springfield to preserve state funding for Amtrak.  Amtrak runs eight trains a day between Chicago and Downstate Illinois and seven to Milwaukee that are state-subsidized to the tune of $42 million. The governor’s budget proposal cuts that figure to $26 million, which would mean fewer trains.  State Rep. Al Riley (D-Olympia Fields), the chairman of the House Mass Transit Committee, says lawmakers will want to keep these trains, if they can.
“There’s a dearth of resources, especially with the income tax increase sunsetting, but still, GRF (general revenue funds) is going to be close to $35 billion, so there’s a lot of room to make concessions, and again to sort of prove that some of these knee-jerk decisions in my opinion were short-sighted,” he said.
Amtrak says it is working on the numbers to show the state what it would get with the lower dollar figure.
The state boosted Amtrak funding in 2006, increasing the number of state-supported trains operated daily.

News story link: