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updated: 4/3/2013 8:12 AM

Editorial: Cooperation key to O'Hare growth

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Daily Herald Editorial Board

It hasn't always been harmonious, the relationship between the city of Chicago and the suburbs bordering O'Hare International Airport. In fact, it's been contentious and litigious many times. The same can be said of the relationship between the airlines and the airport.

But as Daily Herald transportation writer Marni Pyke reported Monday, the goal of everyone connected to the airport is the same -- to provide a world-class facility for travel while benefiting from the economic development that facility can create for the region.

And so, as O'Hare marks another milestone in its history -- the 50th anniversary of the dedication of the airport by President John F. Kennedy -- it's instructive for all sides to remember the positives of the O'Hare location along with the expectation that the negatives be mollified as much as possible.

That can all be done through cooperation and compromise.

"We love O'Hare, we realize O'Hare is economically important for the region," said Elk Grove Village Mayor Craig Johnson, who was a leader in the fight against airport expansion for many years, including making sure that western access to the airport did not mean the displacement of businesses in the village's industrial park.

"Businesses are here because of O'Hare, but we don't love it so much we'd allow the airport to take out part of our community," he said.

Yes, as Pyke noted, there are many love/hate relationships when it comes to the airport. Its two main tenants, United and American airlines, are opposed to a new terminal because of the cost and potential competition. The airlines are also not on board for a new runway and an extension on the north side. It's good to hear, though, that the city of Chicago -- which owns the airport and in the past has been forceful in trying to get its way from the airlines and surrounding suburbs -- is vowing to be more agreeable in future expansion talks.

"We'll work collaboratively until we have an agreement that's a win-win that meets the needs of the airport and airlines and creates better efficiency for the traveling public," said Chicago Department of Aviation Commissioner Rosemarie S. Andolino.

Sounds good. We continue to support the extension of the Elgin-O'Hare Expressway to the airport (imagine that road actually getting to its stated destination after all these years) as necessary for suburban travelers and businesses. We also agree with DuPage County Chairman Dan Cronin, who told Pyke that a new terminal is essential to economic development in the region in the future.

"We have not maximized (O'Hare's) potential for economic development and commerce and jobs and opportunities for the region. I think once we realize the western (bypass) and access and new terminal, you'll see the next 50 years surpass the first by far."

Given how much has changed in the area surrounding O'Hare since 1963, that's a bold but exciting statement.

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