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Six Flags seeks OK for super-sized coaster
By Lee Filas | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 6/17/2010 1:06 PM | Updated: 6/18/2010 8:45 AM

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A new roller coaster might be in the works for Six Flags Great America.

Officials are expected to appear before the Gurnee village board Monday night to get the necessary approval to erect a roller coaster that features two hills topping a village-imposed 125-foot height restriction.

The coaster, which documents show is a stand-up coaster that was at one time operating at another Six Flags theme park, would reach a height of about 150 feet in the initial hill, then climb 137 feet in a second hill. Under village law, anytime Great America wants to build a ride over 125 feet, officials must obtain a special permit to operate the ride.

Jennifer Duggan-Savage, director of communications for Six Flags Great America, said acquiring the permits needed for the ride is only the first step of potentially bringing a new attraction to the theme park, and stressed that a new ride is far from a done deal.

"Going to the zoning board for approval is the very first step in considering expansion for our park," she said. "At this time, we do not have any further information. We are always looking to expand and looking for different avenues to do that."

Six Flags officials wouldn't way where the new coaster would come from. Gurnee Assistant Village Administrator Patrick Muetz said it would be shipped from a now-closed park Six Flags park in Kentucky.

Theme park General Manager Hank Salemi said during his appearance before the Gurnee zoning board on May 26 the coaster is a new generation, stand-up roller coaster that was manufactured by Bolliger & Mabillard of Switzerland. It would be the fifth B&M coaster at the park, along with Superman: Ultimate Flight and Raging Bull, according to minutes of the meeting.

If approved and installed, the addition would be the first major thrill ride added to the park since 2003, when officials unveiled Superman: Ultimate Flight. It's also the first time the park has requested a height variance for a roller coaster since 1999, when it unveiled Raging Bull.

The most recent roller coaster built at the park is the Little Dipper, a small coaster purchased during an auction of Kiddieland Amusement Park in Melrose Park.