Congressman Dan Lipinski said Wednesday that he continues to push for the long-term reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) after a five-year delay that has stalled airport projects including plans to rebuild a 20-year-old runway at Lewis University Airport in Romeoville.
Lipinski, D-3rd District, who is seeking re-election, said the reauthorization will create jobs, save money and reduce air traffic delays.
In a press release, Lipinski said the legislation is crucial to the Chicago area:
Passage of this measure is of critical importance to the Chicago region, which depends on Midway and O’Hare airports for $45 billion in economic activity and 540,000 jobs. It will also provide grants for which smaller airports can compete, such as Lewis University Airport, which is upgrading its runways and planning for increased utilization to attract new companies, jobs, and economic growth. Aviation delays already cost an estimated $9.4 billion annually, and with the number of passengers expected to increase to 1 billion in less than a decade, they will only get worse unless action is taken. Everyone in northeastern Illinois knows we need to cut down on the delays that plague our airports. This bill is absolutely essential to achieving that goal.
In November 2011, Lipinski and Romeoville Mayor John Noak met with FAA administrator Christa Fornarotta to discuss plans for more than $10 million in projects at the Romeoville airport, including runway improvements and an air traffic control tower.
“Lewis University Airport can be the executive airport for the Chicago region,” Lipinski said at the time, noting that its location near three major highways makes it attractive to major corporations. “We’re just looking at doing more to make this a better asset, a real jewel for the region.”
The FAA reauthorization bill, co-authored by Lipinski, includes language that would expedite the rollout of the NextGen satellite navigation system, which would replace outdated radar-based navigation with GPS and other advanced technology, according to the release. The upgrade could save 1.8 billion gallons of fuel through 2018 and 14 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions while reducing delays for air travelers.
According to Lipinski’s release, the system could save airlines, travelers and the FAA $23 billion by 2018.
“For the sake of our economy and jobs, both locally and nationally, we need to pass the FAA reauthorization,” Lipinski said in the statement. “And for the sake of our environment, health, and national security, it should include efforts to decrease harmful emissions, waste, and dependence on foreign oil.”