Mon, Aug 30, 2004
Congestion Would Still Be A Problem
Sure, the $15 billion runway expansion plan for O'Hare Airport
in Chicago (IL) would ease the record number of flight delays in
the short run. But an FAA report released Friday said that would be
a temporary fix -- in the long-run, the airport would become more
and more congested as the number of flights inched back up.
While the report indicated the plan would go a long way toward
improving the airport's on-time performance, the FAA cautioned that
the entire plan would have to be completed as envisioned. If only
part of the plan is built, the FAA predicted on-time performance
would be just as bad as it is now.
In spite of the caveats, Chicago aviation officials crowed about
the report, saying it was a vindication of their claims that the
huge project would be good for air travelers and good for the local
Opponents to the expansion project said the plan is downright
unsafe and will add to the congestion that already makes O'Hare the
nation's single-most gridlocked airport.
They may have a point. The FAA admits that its projections were
based on the number of flight operations at O'Hare last year and
don't take into account the significant increase in traffic
predicted by the time the expansion is finished in 2013.
By 2018, the FAA said O'Hare would host 3,374 operations every
day. If that's the case, the agency predicted flights would still
be delayed an average of six minutes each. That compares to the
current delays, which average about 17 minutes each.
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