Construction of the US$6 billion O’Hare airport overhaul in Chicago, Illinois has been completed 16 years later, as announced by Mayor Lori Lightfoot. The project has transformed O’Hare Airport from an air traffic congestion zone into a modern airport with much fewer “system-impact delays.” The project that extended two runways, built four new ones, added two new air traffic control towers, and replaced intersecting runways with parallel runways took 16 years to complete after decades of controversy including a US$155 million infusion of federal funding and concessions by the retiring former mayor, Daley who convinced United and American Airlines to drop their unprecedented lawsuit against the city. This allowed construction to resume on the US$1.17 billion in O’Hare expansion work.
A few months later when Rahm Emanuel was elected mayor, he subsequently delivered the runway deal with the major airlines that eluded his predecessor, solidifying his own reputation as a political dealmaker. That created hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts and thousands of jobs while freeing up land for new gates, terminals, and airport hotels at the Chicago O’Hare Airport.
“First, thanks go to Mayor Daley. It was his vision that made this day a reality. Of course, his successor and my predecessor, Mayor Emanuel along with all the aviation commissioners. Rosie Andolino, the head of OMP, is with us here today. All of the construction architects, engineers, and companies. And of course, the workers who literally poured their blood, sweat, and tears into the work of this over-a-decade journey. With more runways and fewer delays, O’Hare will be well-equipped to successfully handle the rebounding passenger and long-term air traffic and well-prepared for the future redevelopment of the airport terminals, which we are also extraordinarily excited about. With the correcting of the runways. OMP has resulted in over half a reduction of delays over the life of the project. That’s a tremendous accomplishment,” the mayor, Lightfoot said.