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O’Hare Airport Funds Would Create Chicago Transportation Jobs

Posted on April 6, 2010

Chicago’s O’Hare Airport has received $410 million in federal funds to complete a modernization plan, a move that will spur on the creation of Chicago transportation jobs.

The plan has created a lot of controversy in the Chicago area.

To detract from the controversy, public officials have pointed to the importance of job creation spurred on by the federal funds.

The O’Hare Modernization Program has faced numerous obstacles including a lawsuit filed by the Village of Bensenville about land acquisition, and a public relations debacle involving relocating graves in St. Johannes Cemetery to make way for new runway construction. The suit was settled in November.

According to Medill Reports, the modernization project includes constructing one new runway and relocating three existing runways in hopes of reducing delays. The existing intersecting runway layout would be replaced by a more modern parallel configuration. A new terminal complex on the west side of the airport and a new air traffic control tower also are part of the plan.

Officials say the funds will create many much-needed jobs in an important sector.

“Transportation is the key for jobs today and in the future,” said Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, who spoke at a press conference at O’Hare.

According to U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, the O’Hare expansion project has created 12,000 local jobs and remains under budget. He did not offer an estimate of how many additional jobs would be created by the new funding.

Still, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood emphasized the significance of the project and praised local leadership’s strong vision.

“There is no other place in the country that will receive this large amount of money,” said LaHood.

Demolition of empty structures located on the land acquired from Bensenville began March 14.

O’Hare serviced more than 52 million passengers last year and ranks towards the bottom of major airports in on-time statistics, according to the Department of Transportation. In January, O’Hare ranked 26 of 29 major domestic airports analyzed with 74 percent of flights leaving on time.