New O’Hare Runway Construction Set to Begin May 2016 in the North Airfield


An agreement between the City of Chicago, United Airlines and American Airlines was announced on Saturday that includes a new 11,245 foot runway on the north airfield. Construction is set to begin in May 2016 with the new runway opening in 2020. The city still needs to negotiate with airlines to add more gates and terminal space at O’Hare.

The runway project received $345 million in U.S. Department of Transportation funding, with $60 million in recent additional funding from the FAA. The new runway, known as 9C/27C, also received $200 million from passenger fees, $103 million from the airlines and $619 million more in airline-funded projects for airfield work.

The city says the new runway — at 11,245 feet long and 200 feet wide — will be O’Hare’s second-biggest runway, will be a predominantly arrival runway, and will improve on-time flight performance by increasing the capacity of the airport. When Runway 9R-27L is extended to 11,260 feet, Runway 9C/27C will be the third largest runway.

East of the airport, Runway 9C/27C traffic and noise will impact the south end of a neighborhood just to the east of the airport near Norwood Street and Rosemont Elementary School in a gated community in Rosemont.

West of the airport, the runway traffic and noise will impact a commercial/industrial area between Devon Avenue and Pan Am Boulevard. The nearest residential neighborhood west of the planned Runway 9C/27C is about 1.5 to 2.0 miles from the end of the runway, and is just south of Devon Avenue between Central Avenue and Busse Road.

Emanuel aides have claimed the city will “ensure” sound insulation for all homes and schools before the runway opens.

A new crossfield taxiway system is also planned to connect the north and south airfields and cut taxiing times for arriving planes. When completed, the airport will have three east-west parallel runways on the north airfield, and three east-west parallel runways on the south airfield. The airport will keep two northeast-southwest diagonal runways, but is in the process of eliminating two northwest-southeast diagonal runways.

The modernization plan also includes adding de-icing pads further from the terminal area and other projects that will lead to new gates and terminal modernization.

After the completion of Runway 9C/27C in 2020, the development at the airport will shift to customer upgrades, including increasing amenities for passengers, — increasing the number of gates at O’Hare and modernizing and expanding the airport’s terminals.

Emanuel also plans to announce that negotiations have begun for leases with airlines operating at O’Hare, which are expected to be finalized in 2018. A new hotel at O’Hare, a western access to the airport near York Road are also planned.

O’Hare Modernization History
2008 Northernmost Runway 9L/27R (7,500 feet) opened.

2008 Runway 10L/27R, the northernmost east-west runway in the south airfield, extended to 13,000 feet.

2013 Runway 10C/28C (10,800 feet) opened in 2013.

2015 Southernmost east-west Runway 10R/28L (7,500 feet) opened.

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