Mayor Richard M. Daley joined elected officials, federal officials, business and civic leaders to commission the Runway 10/28 extension, the first infrastructure project completed by the O'Hare Modernization Program (OMP). It is opening 56 days ahead of schedule and under budget.
"Today, the City of Chicago and the O'Hare Modernization Program welcome a new era for air travelers, the airlines and the people and businesses that rely on O'Hare International Airport every day," said Daley. "It is an era that will see fewer delays, increased capacity and added growth for the region's economy."
The 3,000 foot extension of Runway 10/28 provides the airport with a 13,000 ft runway in the region's predominant east-west wind direction. The runway extension also gives the OMP flexibility during the remainder of construction.
Extending O'Hare's busiest runway was not as simple as just pouring concrete. It required close coordination among the OMP, Federal Aviation Administration, airlines and the City's Department of Aviation to ensure there was no disruption to existing operations while the work was being done, Daley said.
OMP contractors also had to move nearly 4 million cubic yards of earth, construct a detention basin and relocate a section of the Union Pacific Rail Line along O'Hare's western boundary before they could begin paving the runway.
Runway and taxiway paving took 10 months to complete, and contractors had only 45 days to connect the new and existing pavement sections at the end of the project.
The Runway 10/28 extension is only the beginning of the improvements being made at O'Hare. On November 20, 2008, the City of Chicago will commission O'Hare's first new runway since 1971 along with a new North Air Traffic Control Tower. A third runway project, Runway 10C/28C, is also under construction. Runway paving will begin on that runway in 2009.
The Mayor thanked the White House, Federal Aviation Administration, Illinois United State Senators Dick Durbin and Barack Obama, the Illinois Legislature, suburban mayors and village presidents, Chicago City Council and the airlines for their contributions to this program. He also thanked the business and labor community for their steadfast support over the years.
"A healthy O'Hare means hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions in annual economic activity for decades to come. It ensures that our region remains ready to compete in the global marketplace and it helps us to improve the quality of life for all our residents," Daley said.
Design efforts on the rest of the OMP program are underway. This work includes three runway projects, an air traffic control tower and a new western terminal complex.