Nearly two months after United and American Airlines sued the city of Chicago to prevent major expansion at O’Hare International Airport, the two sides have reached a compromise that allows the airport to begin construction as negotiations continue the Chicago Tribune reports.
Today’s compromise does not ensure that the entire project will be completed on time, but it does allow the airport to begin construction for a seventh runway, a major piece of the modernization plan while allowing talks over the remainder of the expansion to continue.
A planned far southern runway that was supposed to be the final runway built as part of the $15 billion O’Hare Modernization Program will instead be constructed next, starting in the spring with completion anticipated in about 2016, officials said.
Negotiations between the city of Chicago and United and American airlines will be postponed until 2013 over when to build another runway that is north of the passenger terminals, as well as the planned extension of an existing runway.
Under the compromise, the city will be allowed to go forth with plans to sell $1 billion worth of bonds which the airport’s largest airlines were originally suing to block arguing that an additional runway was not yet needed at the airport notorious for long weather delays and heavy congestion. Thanks to additional funding from the federal government, the airlines agreed to sign off on the next phase of the project and promised to help pay for the bonds using revenue and ticket taxes.
The O’Hare Modernization Program was originally scheduled to be finished by 2014 but with the seventh runway not expected to be finished until 2016 and an additional runway on hold, the timeline for completion remains up in the air.