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Johnson: Book closed on O'Hare expansion fight
By Steve Zalusky | Daily Herald Staff

Mayor Craig Johnson


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Published: 4/30/2009 2:54 PM

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Elk Grove Village Mayor Craig Johnson put an exclamation point on the resolution of the battle over O'Hare Airport Tuesday at his village board meeting, saying, "As far as we're concerned, the O'Hare fight is over."

Last week, the village dropped its legal challenge to the airport's expansion after the Illinois Department of Transportation likewise dropped plans to build a connecting roadway through the heart of the Elk Grove business park.

However, he warned, "That does not mean we're going to let our guard down. We have to make sure we remain vigilant, to make sure that they do follow through and put that roadway where it will not affect this community."

Since longtime anti-O'Hare ally Bensenville Mayor John Geils was defeated for re-election April 7, Johnson said it appears Bensenville has also chosen a new direction.

"So there is no purpose for this community to continue forward with its efforts," he said.

On behalf of the village board, Johnson thanked the community for standing firm. The village leadership never would have been able to succeed without the support of residents, he added.

"No matter how anybody slices it, we were victorious," he added, saying there was no question that IDOT had every intention of "running that roadway right down Busse Road. That was their preferred route."

The cost to Elk Grove Village would have been devastating, he said. The biggest impact would have been the roadway itself, he believes.

"People will say, 'What about noise?' Well ... we grew up under those planes flying in. We were weaned on those airplanes. That is something we have learned to accept and understand as part of living in a community by an airport.

"But when it comes to taking parts of our town to make this airport go forward, at our expense and our devastation, is something we do not stand for. That is why we worked so hard and tirelessly to protect this community.

"And it shows you can win. Despite the overwhelming odds we have had over the years, despite the pressure from the outside to give it up, to quit, we never did. Because we knew we were right."