Chicago celebrates completion of runway modernisation programme

This marks the end of 16 years of continuous runway construction to pave the way for future terminal development

Chicago/O’Hare Airport has announced the completion of $6bn construction works as part of the O’Hare Modernisation Programme (OMP).

The OMP aimed at transforming the airfield’s configuration to reduce delays by moving the original system into a series of parallel (east-west) runways that will increase available capacity at the facility.

Construction has resulted in four new runways, 09L/27R, 09C/27C, 10C/28C and 10R/28R, the extension to two existing air strips, 10L/28R and 09L/27R, and the building of two airport traffic control towers as well as the relocation of several facilities at the airport.

Chicago O'Hare Airport
Photo Chicago/O'Hare Airport

A further three crosswind runways were decommissioned over the OMP period.   

According to the airport operator, system impact delays and the controllable interruptions to aircraft because of infrastructure constraints in the national system, have been reduced by 64% since the beginning of the project when comparing 2003 to 2008 and 2009 to last year.

Dick Durbin, US senator, said: “This overhaul has been years and roughly two-and-a-half billion federal dollars in the making. By investing in increased gateway capacity, updated screening technology, and reduced airfield congestion, the O’Hare Modernisation Programme will help secure Chicago’s status as one of the most important transportation hubs in the world. This program has the potential to create tens of thousands of jobs in the Chicagoland area over the next several years and contribute tens of billions of dollars to our state’s economy.”

The OMP is part of wider works under the ‘O’Hare 21’ project. This also includes the Terminal Area Plan (TAP) for a new global facility along with two satellite concourses, near-term gate improvement projects.

These include existing terminal and concourse expansions and other capital projects  including the airport transit system extension and modernisation, as well as the 15-year O’Hare Capital Improvement Plan (CIP).

The airport says the works will: “Expand travel options by increasing gate capacity and airline competition, reduce security wait times with new screening checkpoints and technology, improve passenger baggage handling systems and reduce airfield congestion and ground delays.”