Last updated: 01:30 PM ET, Mon October 19 2015

Chicago O'Hare Airport Adds New Runway and Control Tower

Airlines & Airports | Donald Wood | October 19, 2015

Chicago O'Hare Airport Adds New Runway and Control Tower

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Last week, Chicago O'Hare International Airport celebrated the completion of the latest phase in an almost $9 billion renovation project with the opening of a new runway and air traffic control tower.

According to a report from Jason Keyser of The Associated Press, the renovation project has been ongoing for more than 10 years, as officials at the airport tried to redistribute the runways in a way that makes the airport safer and less congested.

Delays have been a major issue at the airport for years, but with another runway open, a more efficient layout of the existing runways and an extra control tower to monitor the takeoffs and landings, the hope is that the delays and cancellations are minimized.

The new runway cost $516 million to build and another $41 million for the control tower, and they will be used primarily for arrivals during east flow weather patterns which occur roughly 30 percent of the time. The new runway is 20 minutes from the main terminal.

With the installation of the new runway and tower, O'Hare Airport is expected to land more than 100 planes an hour, regardless of the wind direction that has caused major headaches in the past for the facility.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel told The AP, “There is nowhere in the world and nowhere in the United States you can't get to multiple times daily from the city of Chicago, weather permitting, and we are working on that in the City Council next week. So those delays that happen from that particular weather will be eliminated. This is an important improvement not just for O'Hare but for our entire air traffic system.”

Before the completion of the latest construction phase, the last new runway added opened in 2013 and increased efficiency by arranging the takeoff and landing zones in a side-by-side pattern to avoid potential issues.

The latest construction milestone is a great step forward, but the airport still has $2.3 billion worth of work left to be done. In the next phase, O’Hare will be adding another new parallel runway, a runway extension and a new taxiway.

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