CHICAGO_U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta on Monday pledged $337 million in federal funds for a planned expansion at O'Hare International Airport that is aimed at reducing flight delays at one of the nation's busiest airports.
Mineta said the money included a $300 million grant the city was seeking and another $37 million.
"American taxpayers are making a good investment," said Mineta, who was at O'Hare to sign the grants during a ceremony Monday.
The $15 billion expansion project will add a new terminal, two runways and redesign two other runways. The Federal Aviation Administration has said it will reduce delays by 68 percent if the work ends on schedule in 2013.
A hurdle to the project was removed last week when a federal judge in Chicago dismissed a lawsuit filed by two suburban towns and the owners of a cemetery who oppose the project. The ruling allows the city to resume buying properties in the path of the planned expansion.
The city has agreed not to disturb any graves at the St. Johannes Cemetery until a federal appeals court in Washington rules on another lawsuit opponents have filed against the Federal Aviation Administration.
Illinois Democratic Sen. Richard Durbin welcomed the federal money for the project.
"The Administration knows that O'Hare is the epicenter of not only regional aviation travel, but the national and world's passenger aviation system," Durbin said in a statement.
The expansion project will add a new terminal, two runways and redesign two other runways
The judge's ruling allows the city to resume buying properties in the path of the planned expansion.
Mayor Richard Daley said construction would begin immediately after the FAA gives final approval for the plan, which is expected by September.