The Will County Board is continuing its push for a permanent air traffic control tower at Lewis University Airport in Romeoville.
State Rep. Margo McDermed, R-Mokena, presented the board with a resolution Thursday in support of the permanent tower, which officials said will not only make both the air and ground in the area safer, but also provide an economic boost.
McDermed described how one of her legislative colleagues was appalled that there is no formal air traffic control procedure for the airport and pilots communicate with each other to organize takeoffs and landings.
Amazed, Kathleen Willis, D-Addison, jumped on as a sponsor of the bill, along with other Will County-area legislators.
The resolution, which was adopted in May by the Illinois House of Representatives, urges Congress and President Trump to provide federal funding for Lewis University Airport to construct an air traffic control tower, or to be added to a federal pilot program allowing an air traffic control program.
It was estimated in June 2015 as a $6 million project.
County Board member Ray Tuminello, R-New Lenox, who has been a pilot more than 20 years, said he flies in and out of DuPage Airport because it is a controlled airspace.
“Many of these companies that have their own aircraft, the majority of them have written in their insurance policies that they cannot land or takeoff from a non-controlled airport,” Tuminello said.
In addition to serving aviation students at Lewis University, the airport is a designated “reliever airport” for other Chicago region airports.
“This will help, in a tremendous way, to bring economic development and growth – down the road – in a fashion that we’re not used to,” Tuminello said.
The addition of a second runway in 2004 heightened the airport’s need for a control tower. State, federal and local officials have talked about it ever since
A permanent control tower would benefit the airport when it gets exceptionally busy, officials have said, such as when NASCAR racing teams come to the Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, though NASCAR brings in its own temporary control tower during its events.