O'Hare Airport to get new runway

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The work on a new runway at O'Hare International Airport started on Thursday. (WLS)

The work on a new runway at O'Hare International Airport started on Thursday. The update is the latest step in a long-term plan to modernize the airport.

The new runway will be the airport's second largest and is expected to make it easier for flights to stay on time.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said the $648 million runway will ensure Chicago's future as an international aviation hub.

"For the last four years we've been the number one city in America for direct foreign investment because people have confidence in a city that's ready to invest in its future," Emanuel said.

The 9C/27C runway is scheduled to be completed in 2020. It is at the center of the newly-reconfigured O'Hare, which planners said will dramatically increase the airport's capacity.

The new takeoff and landing patterns have brought an increase in noise complaints from homeowners in previously unaffected neighborhoods in surrounding suburbs as well as the city.

"You can definitely tell when it's our turn that the planes are going over our town because there is just such an influx in the noise and the planes," said Kristen Sosa of Bensenville.

Emanuel said the new runway will relieve pressure on those already in use and change the noise patterns.

"And so it would be more fairly distributed," he said. "So that communities affected today will see less of that type of burden."

The mayor's administration also promised that the contractor building the runway will be required to hold job fairs aimed at hiring Chicago residents from the most economically disadvantaged neighborhoods.

"They also are required to provide transportation from the Blue Line to their jobs...so that transportation is not a barrier for people," said Chicago Aviation Commissioner Ginger Evans.

Construction is expected to create nearly 5,000 jobs in the next four years.

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