New O'Hare Runway will be Under Way; Construction Set to Start in Summer

May 25, 2007
City officials expect to award $62.9 million contract for work on the far northern runway

Construction will start soon on a new runway that originally was supposed to open this year under the city's expansion plans at O'Hare International Airport, city officials said Thursday.

City officials said they expect to award a $62.9 million contract for paving and other work on the far northern runway to a joint venture of Kiewit Western Co. and Reyes Construction.

The runway, known as 9 Left-27 Right, is now scheduled to open in November 2008, according to the O'Hare Modernization Program.

The city rejected a $62.89 million bid from Walsh Construction Co., saying the Kiewit-Reyes bid was the lowest responsive offer.

The city also plans to award a $15.2 million contract to install navigational equipment for the runway to Aldridge Electric Co., officials said.

The city publicly identified the bidders Thursday, a day after the Tribune filed a Freedom of Information Act request seeking the information, which city officials previously declined to release.

The combined $78.1 million in O'Hare runway work to be awarded is pricier than a $58.9 million low bid from Walsh that Chicago rejected a year ago -- delaying the runway opening -- because it far exceeded internal engineering estimates.

But the runway work was later repackaged and the $78.1 million in new bids are below engineering estimates, said Rosemarie Andolino, executive director of the $15 billion O'Hare expansion project.

City officials said they hope to start pouring concrete for the new runway by late summer.

The O'Hare expansion project is at least $400 million over budget and city officials say they don't know when the massive project, originally set for completion in 2013, will be finished. The airlines serving O'Hare have balked at the $15 billion price of adding flight capacity.

In addition, the city has acquired only 464 of the 611 parcels in Bensenville that it needs to complete the project, and airport-expansion opponents have tied up another part of the runway project in court.

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