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
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.