The committee confirmed Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s appointment of Ginger Evans as the City’s new Commissioner of Aviation after dishing out over an hour’s worth of praise for her resume and 30-year industry background.
Start Time: 10:03
Committee Members Present: Chairman Mike Zalewski (23), Vice-Chair Ameya Pawar (47), Pat Dowell (3), Raymond Lopez (15), Willie Cochran (20), Ariel Reboyras (30), Gilbert Villegas (36), Margaret Laurino (39), Pat O’Connor (40), Anthony Napolitano (41), John Arena (45)
Evans did not shy away from detailing major investment plans, from a high-speed rail connecting O’Hare to downtown Chicago, to a redesign of the Kennedy Expressway, to an aggressive marketing campaign targeting international tourists. “There is great potential to build on and enhance Chicago’s Aviation system with actions we can take right now, and by developing bold plans for the future,” Evans told the committee.
Plans for high-speed rail between downtown and O’Hare have been floated for years. The CTA and the city are currently in the process of surveying travelers to find out how they access the airport. Mayor Emanuel has made repeated calls for an express service to the Loop to complement blue line service.
But several aldermen were also concerned with what they called a more pressing issue: an exorbitant amount of noise complaints stemming from O’Hare’s recently expanded runways. “My biggest ask is communication,” Ald. Margaret Laurino told Evans. “It is very important that you keep us in the loop on what issues are coming forward, how we can address the concerns of our neighbors that have to deal with the noise of these runways […] especially overnight.”
Evans said it was an issue all major cities are trying to address. In Denver, Evans said she helped the city as it made the “radical decision” to build a new airport far outside city limits. She also offered up the example of New York City, which insulated homes and changed flight times. She also suggested that once the current fleet of aircrafts expire, there could be an entire redesign of airplane engines.
Ald. Anthony Napolitano, whose ward encompases O’Hare Airport, was pleased with the ideas. “Beautiful. I can’t wait to work with you.”