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Mon, Sep 29, 2008

O'Hare Opens Longer Runway

10L/28R Is Back In Business

Amid great fanfare, Mayor Richard E. Daley welcomed hundreds of dignitaries and guests to Chicago's O'Hare International Airport on Thursday. The occasion was the opening of a newly-extended runway, which is part of a multi-phased $15 billion modernization plan.

"Not many of you have ever been on an airport like this," Daley said, reports The Chicago Sun-Times. "And the importance of [being] under budget and 58 days earlier [than scheduled] -- this is historic."

Attendees first arrived at a staging area furnished with tents, outhouses and refreshments. Boarding a fleet of charter buses, they took a ten-minute ride to a better vantage point.

The ceremony was held in a huge tent on a hill overlooking the airport, with the first arrivals and departures on the new runway timed to provide drama to speeches. "That's the whole idea: to give the media an education how big the airport is and how important expansion is," Daley said.

When asked if the to-do was a bit excessive, Daley defended the lavish proceedings, saying, "We're talking about hundreds of people -- contractors, engineers, professional services, elected officials" who worked on the project.

"Any cost of celebrating is really nominal in terms of the benefit of the historic project," added Rosemarie Andolino, Executive Director of the O'Hare Modernization Project.

Originally scheduled for completion by November 20, the extension added 3000 feet to a runway already 10,000 feet long at a cost of $236 million, a whopping $33 million under budget.

Long-range modernization plans include replacing four runways, decommissioning three runways, and extending two runways. The reconfiguration of the airport is estimated to increase the airport's capacity to over 3800 operations daily and cut delays by 79%, according to Airport-Technology reports.

The imminent relocation of 2,800 residents, two cemeteries and part of the Union Pacific railway has generated plenty of opposition, and lawsuits from the affected communities of Elk Grove and Bensenville are pending.

Bensenville attorney Joe Karaganis is fighting to stop the project. "They keep running bread-and-circus spectaculars to divert attention from serious deficiencies so the press won't look under the rock," he said.

FMI: www.ohare.com

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