O'Hare Expansion Suit Dismissed

A federal judge on Wednesday cleared the way for the city to resume buying properties in the path of a planned expansion at O'Hare International Airport aimed at reducing some of the nation's worst flight delays.

U.S District Judge David Coar dismissed a lawsuit filed by two suburban towns and the owners of a cemetery who oppose the $15 billion project.

While the judge's ruling allows the city to resume buying properties, the city has agreed it won't 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, city attorney Diane Pezanoski said.

Attorneys representing Bensenville, Elk Grove Village and the cemetery owners said they will recommend their clients appeal.

"We're disappointed," attorney Joe Karaganis said. "Shocked would be a legitimate characterization."

The judge had issued a temporary restraining order earlier this month but that did not affect construction work on a new runway that began in October.

Expansion foes who sought the order claimed the city could not legally buy or destroy homes or move grave sites until the FAA decides if it will endorse federal money for the plan.

Opponents argue the FAA should reject funding requests because the city hasn't proved the project is worth the expense. The city is seeking $300 million in federal money for the project's first phase.

The plan would add a new terminal, two runways and redesign two other runways, changes the FAA has said will reduce delays by 68 percent if the work ends on schedule in 2013.

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