Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport Expansion Gets Final Approval

By Bradley Martin
Bradley Martin
Bradley Martin
Bradley Martin is the founder and executive director of the Near East Center for Strategic Studies. His byline can be found in notable publications such as Newsweek, The Jerusalem Post, The Washington Examiner, The Hill, The Daily Wire, and The Washington Times. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter @ByBradleyMartin
November 24, 2022 Updated: November 24, 2022

Following the completion of a four-year environmental study, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has approved a massive expansion of O’Hare International Airport that will include the construction of new terminals, gates, and hotels.

“Today’s news from the FAA gives us a clear path forward to start construction on the Terminal Area Plan which includes Satellite Concourses 1 and 2 and the O’Hare Global Terminal, the centerpieces of the capital improvement program we call O’Hare 21,” said Commissioner Jamie L. Rhea of the Chicago Department of Aviation, which owns and operates the airport.

The expansion is expected to start with two new satellite concourses, providing an estimated 1.3 million square feet of gate and amenity space.

“As I said when the President [Biden] asked me to take on this job, don’t let anybody tell you that O’Hare can’t be romantic,” said U.S Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, which was met with chuckles from the audience. Buttigieg was at the airport to announce some federal investment at a press conference.

The project will also include the demolition and replacement of the airport’s oldest terminal, as well as a look into the use of angled runways to allow for multiple take-offs at the same time.

“O’Hare [International Airport] is a powerhouse that, in return, makes Chicago and Chicagoland a powerhouse for the American economy,” Buttigieg continued. “That is what we are talking about today; jobs, jobs, and jobs.”

The recently-enacted federal infrastructure law (H.R.3684) has allocated more than $73 million to the airport for modernization efforts.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot told reporters that improvements to the airport would also improve the city’s economy by extension.

“O’Hare is the lifeblood of Chicago’s economy, directly employing tens of thousands of Illinois residents and bringing in more than 70 million passengers to and through our city each year,” Lightfoot said. “The next phase of work will expand O’Hare’s capacity to serve travelers and improve the customer experience, transforming it into one of the greatest airports of the 21st century.”

This announcement comes as the latest in a series of expansions which took place at the airport itself. During the summer, ground was broken on a new six-story parking garage near Terminal 5 that will double the amount of space and include electric vehicle charging stations.

“We will be receiving additional funding to Chicago’s transportation network through the bipartisan infrastructure law,” Lightfoot added. “O’Hare airport has been honored to receive federal support from the very beginning.”

Construction of a large tunnel connecting the satellite concourses and O’Hare Global Terminal is scheduled to begin in 2024, with a completion date of 2030.

Bradley Martin is the founder and executive director of the Near East Center for Strategic Studies. His byline can be found in notable publications such as Newsweek, The Jerusalem Post, The Washington Examiner, The Hill, The Daily Wire, and The Washington Times. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter @ByBradleyMartin