Construction of a new exit ramp for I-90 eastbound traffic at Lee Street, the early December opening of the sixth and final new runway at O’Hare Airport, and the relocation of Delta Airline gates from Terminal 2 to Terminal 5 are just some of the major changes underway at the facility.
Chicago Department of Aviation Commissioner Jamie Rhee spoke to members of the Rosemont Chamber of Commerce at a luncheon last Thursday at the Hyatt Regency Hotel. Her half hour presentation focused on improvements at O’Hare and the post pandemic preparations that are underway.
“The airline industry has always rebounded,” said Rhee. “People want to travel. The airlines are preparing for their recovery.”
Rhee explained that airplanes from O’Hare serve more domestic destinations today than prior to the arrival of COVID-19. O’Hare’s International Terminal 5, which has been undergoing major renovations, is scheduled to reopen in about a month, Rhee explained, and that the amount of cargo being handled at O’Hare—approximately $200 million per year—is the most of any U.S. airport.
“We’re finishing 15 years of runway improvements totalling more than $6 billion,” continued Rhee. “Delays have been cut by 64% due to the runway changes.”
O’Hare’s people mover which connects travelers from remote parking lots to the terminals is scheduled to reopen in about a month,” said Rhee. Work on the project has been ongoing for the last six years and the system was shut down in January 2019. It was supposed to be completed in late 2018. Contract disputes and other delays setback the project’s timeline and inflated its original cost to $340 million.
As for the long anticipated exit ramp for eastbound Jane Addams Tollway traffic at Lee Street, Rhee said “it’s being worked on.”