Chicago Files Response to O'Hare Challenge

The city of Chicago asked a federal appeals court Wednesday to clear the way for a $15 billion makeover of O'Hare International Airport.

Construction was temporarily halted by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia last Friday _ just hours after the city got the go-ahead from the Federal Aviation Administration.

The appeals court granted a stay while it considered opponents' emergency motion to stop the project, which is designed to relieve chronic flight delays by adding some runways, reconfiguring others and building another terminal.

The city argued Wednesday that construction delays caused by the stay will increase the project's cost, according to a statement from Mayor Richard Daley's office.

The airport expansion would force about 2,600 people and nearly 200 businesses in the Chicago suburbs of Bensenville, Des Plaines and Elk Grove Village to relocate.

Critics include a church that said the expansion would desecrate a cemetery with 1,300 tombs dating to the 1800s.

When the project is done, O'Hare should be able to handle 1.2 million landings and takeoffs annually, 300,000 more than now, the FAA said. Delays would fall from 17.1 minutes to 5.8 minutes on average, FAA projections show.

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