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More Opposition to O'Hare Expansion Project

By Samantha Abernethy in News on Feb 17, 2009 11:10PM

The group of community leaders in Bensenville fighting the O'Hare expansion has launched a new multimedia ad campaign, saying the plan will destroy the community without improving airport capacity. "We are not about 'Not In My Backyard.' We are about expanding the airport the right way," Bensenville Village President John Geils said at a news conference at Chicago City Hall. The city plans to spend $15 billion to modernize O'Hare by 2014 and has already acquired over 500 properties and a cemetery for a runway scheduled for 2011.

Last week Mayor Daley went to Washington to request $50 million in federal money for the project, which is currently behind schedule and about $130 million over budget. City officials say that the expansion will allow an additional 1.2 million flights a year and ease flight delays for the airport with the worst on-time record in the country.

Last fall six major airlines sent letters to city planners saying they opposed the expansion and that the scope is too big given the current economic climate. Also, traffic at O'Hare last year was the lowest it has been since 1997. On top of all that a former adviser to former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, Christopher Kelly, pleaded guilty to money laundering and federal tax charges in connection to O'Hare expansion contracts, leading investigators to take a closer look at the relationship between Blagojevich and airport contractors.

Taking all of these things into account, it's hard to tell if the expansion project will be successful.

AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh