IL Governor Signs Bill Approving $6.6B O’Hare Airport Expansion

Mon August 18, 2003 - Midwest Edition

CHICAGO (AP) Gov. Rod Blagojevich signed a bill August 6 authorizing a $6.6- billion expansion of O’Hare International Airport.

“The expansion of O’Hare doesn’t just affect Chicago, it doesn’t just benefit northern Illinois, it doesn’t just benefit one or two carriers. By expanding O’Hare, all of us are lifted,” Blagojevich said.

Chicago Mayor Richard Daley said the plan will create “an airport for the 21st century” that will be paid for by users of O’Hare rather than taxpayers. The expansion will add runways, a new terminal and a western entrance to improve airport access.

Supporters said the project will mean more than 195,000 jobs and $19 billion in economic benefits for the state while maintaining O’Hare’s status as a national transportation hub. The project still needs approval by the Federal Aviation Administration before construction can begin.

The measure gives the city of Chicago more power to seize land in neighboring towns to expand the airport, which is plagued by delays. It also limits the state’s ability to block the project.

Daley brought the plan to the Legislature after a similar plan was blocked at the federal level.

Critics have argued the expansion would harm neighboring communities. The project involves removing about 600 homes and businesses, as well as two cemeteries that contain 1,500 graves.