Work begins on O'Hare runway extension that will help balance jet noise

  • Jets will get an extended runway to land on in 2021 on O'Hare's north airfield when an extension is completed.

    Jets will get an extended runway to land on in 2021 on O'Hare's north airfield when an extension is completed. Daily Herald File Photo

Updated 10/25/2019 7:02 PM

Work on the final piece of O'Hare International Airport's runway puzzle formally kicked off Friday.

Federal, state and local officials broke ground on an extension of Runway 9-Right/27-Left, built in 1943 and located on the north airfield.


The current length of the concrete strip is 7,967 feet and it will be expanded to 11,260 feet in 2021, making it the second longest at O'Hare next to the behemoth Runway 10-Left/28-Right at 13,000 feet.

The new length will enable 9R-27L to handle takeoffs for heavier aircraft and is a key piece in balancing jet noise between the north and south airfields.

Bensenville Village Manager Evan Summers noted the extension and an additional runway on the north airfield "should allow for some relief from the concentration of large, loud aircraft over residential homes in Bensenville."

He reiterated Bensenville's commitment to a plan to rotate nighttime use of O'Hare runways to spread jet noise among towns surrounding the airport "in an effort to preserve the quality of life for all residents."

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The project is a crucial part of O'Hare's transition to a parallel east/west flight system instead of relying on diagonal runways.

O'Hare Noise Compatibility Commission Chairwoman Arlene Juracek was "hopeful that with the completion of (O'Hare modernization), the efficiency improvements will assist with mitigating noise impacts."

"At the end of the project, we can develop a more permanent overnight 'Fly Quiet' runway rotation to bring noise relief on a more predictable basis," said Juracek, Mount Prospect's mayor.

The city also is constructing a sixth parallel runway (9-Center/27-Center) that will be completed in fall 2020.

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