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City Announces Multibillion-Dollar Renovation Of O'Hare

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Mayor Rahm Emanuel's administration is serious about revamping Chicago's two airports into economic generators. Yesterday, the Chicago Department of Aviation announced a multibillion-dollar capital investment plan for O'Hare International Airport that would meet rising passenger demand—passenger traffic at O'Hare increased 9.8% last year—and reduce costly delays for airlines.

The plan calls for an additional nine boarding points at O'Hare's Terminal 5, dozens more at the centrally located Terminal 2, new concourses, additional space for TSA passenger screening, and new concessions and amenities. The announcement comes as United, American, Delta, Spirit and international carriers are demanding more space to accommodate larger airplanes like the Airbus A380.

The Terminal 5 expansion will cost $300M and is expected to be completed in 2019; the new central terminal would be delivered a few years after. Rahm is expected to issue bonds to finance the project. It's the latest announced phase of the city's "O'Hare 21" plan that also includes a new runway and a major hotel expansion.