The DuPage Airport is expected by October to have not one, but two runways capable of accommodating the largest corporate jets.
Construction has begun to extend the West Chicago airport's secondary runway by 1,343 feet, to 6,350 feet, at a cost of $3.5 million.
Executive Director David Bird said the construction will not negatively impact the airport's daily flight operations.
"The purpose of this project is to give us additional flexibility and added safety by allowing us to use our extended secondary runway as a backup when maintenance is being performed on the primary runway," Bird said Thursday. "It's much safer to be able to close that primary runway altogether and just shift everything to this new one when we're performing maintenance."
The project has been in the works for five years but Bird said the Federal Aviation Administration is involved at every stage of the application process, including making changes to the airport master plan, hosting public hearings and conducting environmental studies to evaluate noise and the impact on local wetlands and recreation areas.
"It takes some time to get this kind of work done. Once the approvals were all in place we were able to award the contracts and get going," he said. "These types of improvements certainly don't happen overnight."
DuPage Airport's role as a reliever airport was tested during the recent NATO summit when air traffic at the facility quadrupled in daily volume without any delays. Many flights normally scheduled for O'Hare or Midway airports were diverted to DuPage.