Mayor Lightfoot and Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) Celebrate the O'Hare Modernization Program (OMP)

September 9, 2021

The extension of Runway 9R-27L completes 16 years of continuous runway construction to modernize the airfield and pave the way for future terminal development

CDA Media Relations    773.686.3700 |

CHICAGO—Mayor Lori Lightfoot today joined the Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA), government officials and airline executives at O’Hare International Airport to mark the completion of construction for the O’Hare Modernization Program (OMP), concluding the 16-year, $6 billion investment that transforms the airfield into a modern configuration, reduces delays and paves the way for future terminal redevelopment. 

"The OMP is a tremendous investment in both our airport infrastructure and economy, as it will support job creation, catalyze economic growth and create business opportunities across our communities," said Mayor Lightfoot. "Thanks to this project, which features eight completed runways, we will be able to reduce delays and increase O'Hare's efficiency—allowing us to build on the airport's reputation as one of the best in the country. I want to thank all of the government, aviation, contracting and labor partners who made the OMP possible and look forward to seeing how it continues to bolster our city's post-pandemic economic recovery."

The OMP reconfigures the antiquated runway system into a series of parallel (east-west) runways that increase runway capacity at one of the world’s busiest airports. Since the beginning of OMP, system impact delays – which are the controllable delays to aircraft that are a result of infrastructure constraints in the national system – have been reduced by 64% when comparing 2003-2008 to 2009-2020.

“Thanks to the tremendous support of participating federal agencies and our air carrier partners, the CDA was able to accomplish one of the largest runway reconfiguration projects in the world, said Jamie L. Rhee, Commissioner for the Chicago Department of Aviation. “The $6 billion invested in O’Hare’s airfield has led to the creation of tens of thousands of jobs and work for diverse businesses of all sizes.”

The sixteen years of continuous OMP development incorporated the construction of four new runways, the extensions to two existing runways, the building of two new airport traffic control towers and the relocation of numerous facilities at O’Hare International Airport. The most recent project extends Runway 9R-27L by approximately 3,290 feet to make it 11,260 feet and the second-longest runway on the O’Hare airfield. This follows the successful delivery of other key OMP runway projects including:

  • Extension of Runway 10L/28R (September 25, 2008) 
  • New Runway 9L/27R (November 20, 2008) 
  • New Runway 10C/28C (October 17, 2013) 
  • New Runway 10R/28L (October 15, 2015)
  • New Runway 9C-27C (November 5, 2020)
  • Three crosswind runways (14L/32R, 14R/32L and 18/36) were also decommissioned over the above timeframe as part of this effort

“This overhaul has been years—and roughly two-and-a-half billion federal dollars—in the making. Today, we can finally celebrate the new-and-improved O’Hare International Airport,” U.S. Senator Dick Durbin said. “By investing in increased gateway capacity, updated screening technology, and reduced airfield congestion, the O’Hare Modernization Program will help secure Chicago’s status as one of the most important transportation hubs in the world.  This program has the potential to create tens of thousands of jobs in the Chicagoland area over the next several years and contribute tens of billions of dollars to our state’s economy.”

"Investments like the O'Hare Modernization Program and the ongoing O’Hare 21 Program are critical to keeping Chicago a world class city, America’s transit hub, and providing good jobs to working class Latino and Black communities like the ones I represent in Chicago,” said U.S. Congressman Jesús “Chuy” García. “I have been a champion for O'Hare International Airport since my time on the City Council and will keep up the fight in Congress for increased investments in our city and its workers." 

“I was grateful for the chance to help celebrate the completion of the O’Hare Modernization Program’s runway projects, which are a crucial step forward for the overall O’Hare21 program, “ said U.S. Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi. “O’Hare21 will provide a strong foundation for our region’s continued leadership in the global economy. The O’Hare Modernization Project’s runway improvements and the other elements of O’Hare21 will provide the increased capacity and efficiency we need to strengthen our region, create good-paying jobs, and improve the daily lives of all our communities.”

To commemorate the accomplishment, a set of murals were painted by teens at the Summer Kickback event that was held last month at Columbus Park as part of First Lady Amy Eshleman’s My CHI. My Future program. The free summer series connected Chicago’s youth with safe and engaging spaces throughout 15 communities across the south and west sides and featured activities, games, food and more. The murals will go on display at O’Hare. 

These final phases of the OMP are part of the O’Hare 21 capital program – Chicago’s vision for a modern airport that will be an efficient and accessible international gateway to the world and to Chicago. Through this $8.5 billion investment, O’Hare will be transformed from curb to gate and meet the needs of the traveling public through the 21st century and beyond. More information on O’Hare 21 is available at

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