House bill would update, expand O'Hare

WASHINGTON -- Chicago's O'Hare International Airport would be modernized and reconfigured under a bill sponsored by Rep. William Lipinski (D-Ill.), a member of the House aviation subcommittee.

The bill, called the National Aviation Capacity Expansion Act, would update O'Hare, a facility which was first opened in 1950s.

"O'Hare is badly in need of an upgrade to meet the demands of the 21st century," Lipinski said. "By replacing old runways with a safe and more modern design, weather delays and cancellations will be greatly reduced, eliminating delays that often make the rest of the nation shudder."

Lipinski said O'Hare has emerged as an important linchpin in the nation's aviation system.

"O'Hare serves more than 190,000 travelers per day, with 2,700 daily flights," he said. "Communities big and small are served by O'Hare."

Under the bill, new runways would be constructed at O'Hare, while others would be reconfigured.

House members opposed to the bill have warned that it could cost the U.S. government tens of millions of dollars. But Lipinski disagreed.

"Contrary to what the few opponents of this measure say, this bill does not put the federal government on the hook for the cost of this project," he said.

The bill would pay for certain modernization projects at the airport through airline and airport generated funds, Lipinski said, such as "passenger facility charge, landing fees, concessions and bonds."

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