O'Hare expansion plan moves to Congress

CHICAGO -- A plan to expand Chicago's O'Hare International Airport moved to Congress Dec. 4.

Illinois Gov. George Ryan, one of many tapped by Congress to reduce delays at one of the nation's busiest airports, sent congressional leaders a plan that includes building an airfield about 40 miles south of the city and keeping lakefront commuter airport Meigs Field -- scheduled to close in February -- open for 25 more years.

It also included plans to begin building a controversial south runway at O'Hare in 2011, a move that would mean the demolition of about 500 homes.

The plan is almost identical to a deal between Ryan and Chicago Mayor Richard Daley that recently fell apart over who would pay to keep Meigs Field open.

The governor's plan calls for airlines, not the state, to subsidize any deficit at the commuter airport by using fees they collect at Midway and O'Hare.

According to published reports, Ryan moved ahead with his proposal because "it's still hot," ' but noted that Congress is unlikely to approve the project without Daley's support.

The plan is expected to cost about $6 billion.

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