$ 6 billion project to unravel the O’Hare tracks completed


CHICAGO (AP) – Government and airline officials gathered on Thursday to mark the completion of a $ 6 billion modernization project aimed at unraveling the clutter of runways that, for decades, has left Flights to and from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport looked like a traffic jam downtown. peak hour.

In a ceremony at the airport, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the 16-year O’Hare Modernization Project (OMP) to expand two existing runways and build four new ones side by side made it possible to fly to and from one of the busiest airports. in the world much simpler.

“With the correction of the tracks and their paralleling, the OMP resulted in a 64% reduction in delays over the life of the project,” Lightfoot said of the project, which also added two new control towers. air traffic and relocated several facilities.

The changes are welcome improvements for an airport that, for years, has ranked among the worst in the country for on-time departures and arrivals.

The modernization project is part of a larger $ 8.5 billion project – including the $ 6 billion spent on new runways and other upgrades – called O’Hare 21, which will include the construction of a huge global O’Hare terminal.

“It means more passengers and freight going through O’Hare, and it means more tourists and more businesses for Chicago and the Midwest,” said U.S. Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi, whose suburban Chicago district includes the tracks. from O’Hare.

The projects were largely paid for with a mix of airport tax obligations, passenger fees and federal grants, with airlines paying debt service on the bonds. During Thursday’s ceremony, U.S. Senator Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) Said that after contentious battles that spanned courtrooms in Congress, the federal government’s share of funding stood at about $ 2.5 billion.

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