Chicago — Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the City of Chicago, U.S. Senators Durbin and Kirk, representatives from United and American Airlines, and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced a nearly $1.3 billion infrastructure plan for O’Hare International Airport that will create thousands of jobs over the life of the project.

This historic agreement includes a new runway (Runway 9C/27C), deicing pads and other critical airfield projects, paving the way for further airport improvements that will allow O’Hare to increase the number of gates, modernize the terminals and secure Chicago’s future as one of the most important aviation hubs in the world. The thousands of travelers who depend on O’Hare each day will see improved on-time performance and enhanced customer experience due to the increased capacity at the airport and the new projects the city will be able to pursue as a result of the landmark deal.

Runway 9C/27C, scheduled to be commissioned in 2020, will be used for arriving and departing aircraft. The 11,245-foot-long, 200-foot-wide runway will be the second largest runway at O’Hare. This runway will balance the capacity of the north airfield with that of the south airfield, providing increased flexibility for east and west flow operations, as well as balancing noise exposure among communities east and west of O’Hare. The city also plans to ensure that sound insulation of all eligible homes and schools will commence and be completed before the runway opens. The cost of construction for Runway 9C/27C is $648.5 million.

O’Hare’s airfield also will receive a centralized deicing facility to increase the efficiency of the current deicing operations at individual gates, improve on-time performance and the passenger experience. This project will improve gate utilization and terminal capacity, eliminate secondary deicing for departing planes, and enhance runway safety while improving airfield operations. In addition, a new crossfield Taxiway system will be constructed to connect the north and south airfields which will decrease taxi time for planes arriving at O’Hare and improve the customer experience. The construction plan also calls for the relocation of fuel supply lines and airline support facilities, as well as perimeter Taxiways A and B.

The construction of Runway 9C/27C and the additional airfield projects will have a major economic impact on Chicago, and ensuring significant local workforce participation will be a priority. Over the next few years, this agreement will create over 5,000 construction and professional services jobs, which will mean more than 1,000 each year for the duration of the effort — and an opportunity to turn hundreds of entry-level jobs into opportunities for our underserved communities. Towards that end, the City will expand on the successful community hiring efforts used for the CTA’s Red Line South project by: working with partners in the City Council and in the federal government to establish new contracting rules to promote these opportunities; organizing outreach through community partners to notify residents about the application process; working with organized labor and our workforce partners to open hiring offices in underserved communities; and working with the City Treasurer to create a new program to help small minority and women-owned firms get financing to participate in these projects.

“We are thrilled about this important opportunity to bring additional economic development to Chicago’s neighborhoods,” said Shari Runner, President and CEO of the Chicago Urban League. “It is more important than ever before to ensure that the jobs created from modernizing O’Hare Airport help lift up our underserved communities.”

With the completion of the six parallel-runway system, the city, Illinois’ congressional delegation and its airport partners will continue to focus on enhancing the customer experience, increasing amenities for passengers and improving on-time performance at O’Hare. Mayor Emanuel is focused on a strategic vision to bring O’Hare International Airport in to the 21st Century by increasing the number of gates, modernizing and expanding existing terminal space, building a new hotel on the airfield, creating a mode of western access to O’Hare and improving transportation options to and from the airport. 

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