Reconfiguring O'Hare: Officials see airfield changes as solution to regional delays

COVER STORY Reconfiguring O ’Hare By Jodi Richards, Associate Editor Officials see airfield changes as solution to regional delays Rosemarie Andolino CHICAGO — O’Hare International Airport’s central location...

“There is capacity in this region,” says Andolino. “We have Midway; Gary, Indiana; Rockford; Milwaukee; Palwaukee. So there is additional capacity if the demand were there for additional locations for passenger traffic. But the problems at O’Hare can only be solved at O’Hare.

“We’re working hard to modernize our airfield so that the benefits of an efficient O’Hare, which will minimize delays, will be able to enhance all operations. Because we know that O’Hare’s delays are not just felt at O’Hare, but across the nation. We’re working eagerly, aggressively to help mitigate that problem by creating the infrastructure on the ground with a modernized airfield.”

Currently, FAA is analyzing ORD’s airport layout plan (ALP) and developing an environmental impact statement (EIS), according to FAA spokesman Tony Molinaro. “With the plan they’ve given us, we have to look at the efficiencies and limitations of what they’ve proposed,” he says. “We’re analyzing the airfield and the airspace operations. We’re looking at surface traffic, noise modeling, and air quality. There [are] issues of social justice and historic aspects — there are two cemeteries where they’re planning a runway — so we have to look at all those things.

“We’re trying to get new technologies in that would help with efficiency. New processes and procedures that still would be safe but try to make everything more efficient.”

The $6.6 billion O’Hare Modernization Program is expected to provide the delay relief the Chicago region needs, according to OMP executive director Rosemarie Andolino.

The Department of Aviation’s airfield plan includes construction of a new runway, 9L/27R; relocation of 10C/28C; extension of 10L/28R (formerly 9R/27L); extension of 9R/27L (formerly 9L/27R); relocation of 14L/32R (runway 9C/27C); relocation of 14R/32L (runway 10R/28L); air traffic control towers; and, additional navigation aids.

Additionally, the plan calls for:

• 3,800 new short-term public parking spaces near the new West Terminal;
• 3,200 new long-term parking spaces on the southwest side of the airport;
• Additional employee parking lots;
• Secured automated people mover system;
• On-airport public roadways;
• On-airport service roadways;
• New West Terminal and Remote Concourse, to encompass approximately 1,527,000 square feet, 60 gates, and an underground automated people mover between the terminal and remote concourse, and “providing a front door for our western neighbors,” says Andolino;
• Southwest cargo area; eleven buildings will be relocated; and,
• Northwest maintenance area; Mount Prospect Road entrance and 15 buildings relocated.

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