Chicago: O'Hare expansion remains on schedule

Bensenville, cemetery determined to fight
August 14, 2008 4:09:27 PM PDT
Runway construction is ahead of schedule in the O'Hare expansion plan, but uncertainty looms about the demolition of nearby homes- and related cost overruns.Planes land every couple of minutes at O'Hare on Runway 10 Left, which has been lengthened by 3,000 feet. When it's re-dedicated next month, Runway 10 Left will be the longest- and busiest- runway at O'Hare.

All the new cement went down while the runway remained open, leaving no margin for error.

"Quite an endeavor for our forces to go through and make sure we work safely on the airfield," said Alan Dadian, site manager.

On the northern end of the airport, a new tower is almost ready and the airport's newest runway- and first one in 37 years- is already striped. Once the navigational aids check out, the new runway will open November 20th.

The new northern runway is on schedule. Runway 10 Left's expansion is ahead of schedule and under budget, but the entire project is running in the red to the tune of more than $100 million.

According to the city, the cost of litigation in its court fight with suburban opponents of the O'Hare Expansion Plan has driven up costs.

Last week, the city won court permission to begin demolishing over 550 homes in neighboring Bensenville, but that decision is on hold pending an appeal.

"Every day that the court does not make a decision is a day that impacts this program of national significance," said Rosemarie Andolino, O'Hare Modernization Exec. Dir.

Several Bensenville residents are refusing to leave their homes to make way for the $15 billion O'Hare International Airport expansion plan. The city of Bensenville and church owners of St. John's cemetery are determined to fight- even though their legal options are limited. They believe the airlines will never be able to afford the next step in the O'Hare expansion project.

"The city will have those final discussions with the carriers and as we continue to broach and negotiate the completion phase and the financing for it. Once we're ready to announce something, we will," said Andolino.

Despite the unknowns, the City of Chicago said the O'Hare Expansion Plan will be finished by 2014. Crews had planned to move the bulldozers in sometime in the late fall, but that will have to wait.


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