Monday, March 9, 2009

Georgia Legislature Blasts O'Hare Modernization Program as Wasteful Project

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A resolution has been introduced in the Georgia Legislature calling Chicago's O'Hare Modernization Program, or OMP, a "Runway to Nowhere" and describing the project as "ill-conceived and premature." House Resolution 535 was introduced by Representative Joe Wilkinson, Chairman of the House Ethics Committee. It calls on Georgia Congressional delegation to stop all wasteful federal spending in relation to President Obama's recently approved stimulus package. The cost of OMP, which would add a third terminal to Chicago's O'Hare Airport, is currently estimated at approximately $20 billion.

"President Obama was right to warn the nation's mayors that he would call them out for spending federal tax dollars on pork. He should start with his hometown mayor," said Representative Wilkinson. "Here is a public works project that's riddled with allegations of corruption. As an extension of the Rod Blagojevich investigation, crony contractors are being charged with fraudulent bid-rigging schemes, and Chicago's mayor wants upwards of $20 billion from the American taxpayers to pay for it? If that's not pork, I don't know what is."

No one in Illinois is publicly acknowledging where the stimulus funds for the state will be used but there has been speculation that a significant portion will be used for the O'Hare Modernization Program. Chicago Mayor Richard Daley has yet to reveal how and where he would like stimulus funds to be used. Given that the state of Illinois will not invest in the project, and the city of Chicago does not have the resources, it's likely the mayor will go around state government and take his case directly to Washington.

"Why should the people of Georgia and the rest of the nation cough up $20 billion to build an airport in Chicago, when their own state won't even pay for it?" continued Wilkinson. "Compare Chicago's project to Atlanta's request of $500 million for the new Hartsfield-Jackson international terminal. Atlanta and Chicago have virtually identical airports with identical traffic volume, yet Chicago's terminal will cost more than $19 billion more the proposed Atlanta project, and the airlines have affirmed that it will do very little to alleviate flight delays. The American people were right to stand up against the 'bridge to nowhere,' and it's time to do the same with the 'runway to nowhere.'"

Work on the next phase of the O'Hare expansion has not begun and funding for the $20 billion Program has not been secured. FAA studies show that the expansion will not provide any significant improvement of airline delays or alleviate congestion at O'Hare. Aviation experts say that OMP will instead produce massive delays and increase costs for both consumers and airlines during and after initial construction. In addition, the airlines, including United Airlines and American Airlines, have also called the OMP plan "ill-conceived" and "premature." is dedicated to stopping the senseless, ill advised and flawed O'Hare Modernization Program (OMP) and preventing further unnecessary displacement of families and the wasting of taxpayer dollars. Community leaders, concerned citizens, aviation industry leaders and economic experts continue to urge the FAA to adopt viable alternatives. These include runway configurations proposed by the Chicago air traffic controllers, use of congestion management techniques, reliance on other nearby airports, and construction of a third airport.

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