Rockford Airport Expansion Still Progressing Without State Funds

Aug 21, 2017

Federal, state, and local officials celebrated the beginning of Phase Two of a huge improvement project at the Chicago/Rockford International Airport Monday.

U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-17) was part of the crowd checking out the progress at Rockford’s airport. She’s one of the lawmakers who helped land more than $10-million dollars for the latest improvements, including a new cargo ramp and upgrades in the passenger terminal. Bustos said it’s one of the reasons she’s on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. “What’s associated with every $1 we invest in infrastructure is a $2 return,” she said. “And also associated with every single highway project, bridge project, airport project, is jobs.”

Sen. Dick Durbin speaks at the Chicago/Rockford International Airport Aug. 21, 2017
Credit Susan Stephens / WNIJ

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) told the crowd in the airport’s terminal, “This is what we can do with your tax dollars: to create employment, to help businesses grow, to create better neighborhoods, better family circumstances, and better opportunities for the future.”

Chicago/Rockford Airport Executive Director Mike Dunn said he’s grateful for the federal funding, but money the airport has expected since 2014 has been held up at the state level. He said that means $80,000 a month in interest on money the airport authority had to borrow to cover it.

“We have a good relationship with our state legislative delegation here, Dunn said after Monday’s event, “And we’re hoping they’re going to be able to get things worked out down in Springfield, so we can be included in the capital plan.”

Rep. Cheri Bustos speaks to reporters at the Chicago/Rockford International Airport, Aug. 21, 2017
Credit Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Dunn says the expansion and improvements are expected to result in 300 new jobs at the airport.

Democrats Durbin and Bustos also used the event to call on Republican Governor Bruce Rauner to release millions of dollars for the airport.