To the editor:
I took several extra copies of the Reader article on the Peotone airport boondoggle ["Runway Inflation," March 15] to the March 20 meeting of the Intermodal Advisory Task Force of the Chicago Area Transportation Study, where a variety of interested parties explore freight transportation problems of the region and seek solutions. As we introduced ourselves and reported recent news snippets, I made the extra copies available and said this is just the sort of boondoggling in transportation I am against, also that author [Robert] Heuer met named source Jay Franke at our previous meeting. Franke said he had never met Heuer before, but he seemed to be a decent fellow. Having previously proposed a monorail industrial district along Cicero and 75th at these meetings, I said it was an alternative to the airport, one that would create real factory jobs, not a lot of boondoggling. The IDOT representative said this was necessary to keep the economy going. I said I would take up that very topic at the College of Complexes on May 4, that dissipation of capital resources is just what stifles the economy.
At a February candidates' forum at Malcolm X College, Roland Burris and Rod Blagojevich both spoke in favor of the Peotone airport. During audience participation, I said anyone with half an ounce of brains could see a severe unemployment problem on the far south side and, likewise, that Maywood had problems that O'Hare, eight miles away, had not solved. A real problem demanded a real solution, an industrial district along Cicero and 75th, the route long proposed for the Mid-City transit line, but using a heavy-duty monorail instead. It could haul both freight and passengers, an extension of internal material-handling systems, with vehicles under a standard steel beam, propelled and suspended by linear induction motors. Burris just harrumphed about the airport being an "economic engine," but Blagojevich said he would look into it and sent a staffer to pick up my literature. A reminder or two would not hurt.
Too bad Heuer's article did not appear about a month earlier. Then fervent Peotone airport supporter and George Ryan antagonist Patrick O'Malley could have been asked just what he meant by "corruption." He never made a peep about William Cellini that I know of, who is also one of the politically connected gluts feasting on the bones of poor, ravaged Maxwell Street.
The money taken in by license bribes is indeed nickel-dime compared to the billions blown on unnecessary construction projects such as the Peotone airport. Would anyone care to compare the license-for-bribes proceeds with the political contributions from the construction industry?
The monorail could also be built for speeds of 150 mph or more and connect O'Hare, Midway, Gary, Rockford, and Milwaukee airports, allowing passengers to come in on one and leave from another. It could also relieve a lot of short-haul airline traffic and create high-speed ground transportation on existing rights-of-way, without needing another swath through the city or countryside or creating interminable conflicts with existing rail and highway traffic. NASA is investigating the same linear motor technology to launch satellites, per Mechanical Engineering, February 2000.
The College of Complexes meets every Saturday night at the Lincoln Restaurant, 4008 N. Lincoln, 8 PM, 312-326-2120.
Anyone can get on the IATF mailing list by calling Gerald Rawling, CATS, 312-783-3469.
William F. Wendt Jr.