As Chicago residents
are eagerly awaiting several high-profile public works projects
to wrap this year, an extensive $6.6-billion plan to expand
O'Hare International Airport moves forward. Despite opposition
voiced from nearby property owners and others, Chicago Mayor
Richard M. Daley (D) has unveiled a revised copy of the city's
original June 2001 proposal (ENR 7/9 p. 14), now pending general
approval from the Federal Aviation Administration. Although
the changes call for added design features and shorter schedules,
Daley still assures that none of the costs will be borne by
courtesy of: Office of Mayor Richard M. Daley)Click on
photo to enlarge
On Dec. 23, Daley outlined the
new "layout plan," which calls for 3,200 more long-term parking
spaces, adjustments to runway placement, and a new Metra commuter-rail
line with direct service to the airport's western terminal.
Planners have also cut the project's original timeline from
15 to 11 years.
"It [the expansion] will vastly
improve the efficiency of the nation's aviation system," says
Daley, but opposing groups assert that O'Hare would grow "beyond
its proper and appropriate size," says the Suburban O'Hare
Commission, a local anti-expansion coalition. The SOC also
claims that the project not relieve air traffic at O'Hare,
which the FAA currently estimates at roughly 900 million takeoffs
and landings each year.
In order to placate these factions,
Daley has allocated $450 million for local home and school
soundproofing, and he has announced plans to build a third
regional airport in Peotone, a suburb 44 miles southwest of
Chicago. As yet, the city has not released further details
on the third airport.
The FAA's approval of the O'Hare
project, expected within 18 months, will make way for federal
assistance. Following FAA approval, city officials expect
building to commence by the year-end 2004.
Last year, the FAA named O'Hare
the nation's busiest airport for 2001. The Hartsfield Atlanta
International Airport previously held the honor.