CHICAGO (WLS) --Mayor Rahm Emanuel joined elected officials and others to announce Friday a multi-billion-dollar expansion for O'Hare International Airport.
Emanuel wants to make the airport bigger and better without using any taxpayer dollars. But the city said funding is still being discussed with the airlines.
Emanuel says the plan is important to make O'Hare one of the busiest and best airports.
"We will not only have new gates, but that will also be a new gateway where the world will come to Chicago and Chicago will also go to the world," the mayor said.
City officials said with this next step in the modernization of O'Hare, passengers can expect more gates, expanded and redesigned terminals, better amenities and more flights to more destinations.
Terminal 5 is already expanding. But this next step would add nine additional gates, in an effort to improve on time performance as O'Hare continues to struggle with some of the nation's longest flight delays. With the new gates, airlines would also be able to offer more flights to more destinations.
Terminal 2 would be demolished and redeveloped into a new central terminal, which would include a new customs facility, more space for TSA screening and more concessions. City officials said the changes would give passengers the ability to get out of the airport faster and connect to flights easier.
"I think we are due for an upgrade here. So technology and newer and more convenient is always better," said Michelle Hood, a traveler at O'Hare.
"I think it will be a great idea, simply because the modernization of it will help people want to come to this airport more," said Darlene Davis, another traveler.
According to the Chicago Department of Aviation, the $300 million cost for the additional gates will be paid for with existing fees already tacked onto each plane ticket.
O'Hare struggles with some of the longest flight delays in the nation, and the city hopes more gates will drive that down.
It will be the first gate expansion at O'Hare since 1993 and one of the largest airport expansions in the nation.
While improvements at Terminal 5 are about three years away, redoing Terminal 2 is even farther away as airlines and the city continue negotiations.