WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Chicago aviation officials announced that no funds will be going towards the O'Hare Modernization Program (OMP) from the $12 million in federal stimulus money sent to O'Hare to help improve existing infrastructure. Officials including Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) announced more than $5 million will be used to replace runway pavement and almost $7 million will be used to widen a taxiway but absolutely no monies will be awarded to the controversial OMP project.
"This is important, this means people are finally listening to what we have been saying for years. The current O'Hare expansion plan is not the answer and should be re-examined before another cent of taxpayer funds are wasted," says Bensenville Village President John Geils. "We were in Washington, D.C., six weeks ago explaining the situation to lawmakers and it looks like they were listening. Today is a victory for the residents of Bensenville and everyone who knows the current airport expansion plan needs to be re-worked to be functional."
Many community leaders have pointed out the O'Hare mega-project is behind schedule, underfunded, and the meter is running. The slumping airline industry, which is making long-lasting cuts in fleets and labor forces, says it is in no position to commit to any more than the initial phase of startup funding for O'Hare expansion. O'Hare gates leased to United Airlines and American Airlines are already underutilized and the airlines are making more cuts, trimming their schedules by about 15 percent.
"The day the federal government takes a harder look at the O'Hare expansion plan is the day the plan will be re-worked. The need for a third airport as part of a master Chicago aviation strategy is obvious to anyone who looks at the passenger traffic patterns," says Geils. "When we met with senators and congressman and their staff they could not believe the OMP was still considered a viable plan and as we see, they can influence what projects merit federal funding and what projects do not. The current O'Hare expansion plan does not."