Chicago/ Transportation & Infrastructure
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Published on May 28, 2024
Chicago's O'Hare Airport Embarks on Transformation with O'Hare 21 Expansion, Boosting Economy and JobsSource: National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Chicago's O'Hare International Airport is getting a major facelift as Mayor Brandon Johnson announced the next phase of an ambitious infrastructure overhaul. According to the O'Hare 21 Terminal Area Plan, this project will see the construction of Satellite Concourse 1, a massive effort to modernize and expand airport facilities. According to a press release from the city, the concourse will cater to both international and domestic passengers.

The plan, as Mayor Johnson stated, is not merely a transport project but a boon for Chicago's local economy, potentially impacting over 700,000 regional jobs and contributing in excess of $70 billion in economic activity. " Investments in our airports are truly investments in our communities, generating new career opportunities for the people and families of Chicago and creating generational wealth among local entrepreneurs," Johnson explained in the press release. The extensive project began in March 2023 and has included the construction of new taxiways and the reconfiguration of existing ones.

Illinois Senator Dick Durbin echoed the project's importance for Chicago, lauding the city's efforts to make O'Hare a modernized asset for the foreseeable future. The development plan, as outlined by city officials, includes not just the Satellite Concourse 1 but also a new, state-of-the-art O’Hare Global Terminal, additional satellite concourses, and a tunnel for connecting all facilities. The city has released architectural renderings displaying the groundbreaking design crafted by the joint efforts of renowned firms, including Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, and Ross Barney Architects.

"We designed the new satellite concourse to create a frictionless experience for travelers, on par with the best airports in the world," SOM Design Partner Scott Duncan was quoted saying in the release. Incorporating user-friendly designs, the space aims to make air travel more enjoyable with high ceilings and natural lighting. An agreement with O’Hare's hub carriers, cemented earlier this month, will ensure that the construction and delivery of these new amenities occur with a sense of priority.

Infrastructure advancements at O'Hare have been a key focus of Mayor Johnson's first year in office, marked by the commencement of the ElevateT3 project and the completion of the Midway Modernization Program. These projects add to the Chicago Department of Aviation's efforts to boost parking and mitigate operational impacts during the ongoing construction. The O'Hare 21 initiative boasts a minority- and women-owned business participation rate of 38%, a direct reflection of the current administration's commitment to inclusive economic growth. The Satellite Concourse 1, alone, is poised to generate over 3,800 construction jobs, with AECOM Hunt Clayco Bowa snagging the construction manager role just this February.

The city informs that the upcoming concourse is slated for completion by 2028, which is expected to streamline airport operations and considerably enhance the passenger experience. With a new summer stormwater project in the pipeline, O’Hare positions itself at the forefront of aviation industry transformation.

Chicago-Transportation & Infrastructure