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O'Hare Operations Literally Buzz With Activity

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courtesy of CDA
Beehives are part of socially responsible activity in O'Hare modernization.
courtesy of CDA
Chicago O'Hare is undergoing a $6.6-billion modernization.
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Chicago's $6.6-billion O'Hare International Airport modernization program features three features not usually associated with aviation: bees, hydroponics and a graveyard.

The O'Hare modernization program (OMP) cleared a major hurdle earlier this year when the Illinois Supreme Court denied an appeal filed by St. John's United Church of Christ, allowing the city to regain title and possession of St. Johannes Cemetery, located on airport property. Relocation is critical to the completion of a new 10,600-ft-long runway that will accommodate jumbo-sized aircraft.

To the south of that new runway, crews this summer used 7,100 tons of warm-mix asphalt on a new 800-ft x 75-ft section of a taxiway. The city's aviation commissioner, Rosemarie Andolino, says warm-mix-asphalt use may expand and could be used on a full runway.

Transportation officials released its updated Sustainable Airport Manual (ENR 11/29/10 p. 1) at an Airports Going Green conference last month.

They also unveiled a hydroponic garden, located in a concourse, that provides produce for terminal restaurants, showcasing a commitment to environmentally friendly operations that are designed to encompass social responsibility.

Brenda Palms-Barber, executive director of the North Lawndale Employment Network, discussed the launch of an on-airport apiary that doubles as a training program for former convicts. "One in 100 Americans are behind bars," she told conference attendees, "and 90% of them will return to society."

The apiary program—developed with her company Sweet Beginnings and the first of its kind at a U.S. airport—takes place on an isolated 2,400 sq ft of airport property. The project has created 211 jobs so far, and the 33 hives are expected to yield 575 lb of honey this fall, she said.

Other green OMP initiatives launched this year include a program that allows participating taxis, using compressed natural gas, to access lanes that are typically reserved for wheelchair-accessible vehicles. The process reduces wait times.

The city also solicited bids late last month for design, construction, operation and maintenance of a multi-alternative- fuel vehicle service station. The station will offer compressed natural gas and would allow for a variety of additional alternative fuels.

This month, Spain's Iberia Airlines began shutting down one of each of its plane's two engines when taxiing at O'Hare. Officials expect this to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by up to 40%.

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