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O’Hare to Receive $50 Million Infrastructure Grant

Mayor Lightfoot announces O’Hare to receive $50 million grant funds from the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

By Todd R. Berger

3.10.23_Travelers at Chicago O'Hare International Airport. O'Hare to receive $50 million in grants.
Travelers at O’Hare International Airport CREDIT Adobe Stock/Donte

Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot announced that O’Hare International Airport will receive $50 million in Airport Terminal Program grant funds from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (also referred to widely as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law). The grant is the largest this year for any airport in the United States. It will upgrade customer amenities, improve security screening, and expand accessibility for passengers with disabilities at Terminal 3.

“O’Hare is one of the busiest airports in the world, with millions of travelers passing through every year,” says Mayor Lightfoot in a prepared statement. “This investment is critical for improving accessibility, safety, and energy efficiency at Terminal 3, and it complements the Chicago Department of Aviation’s ongoing efforts to modernize and expand O’Hare. Thanks to the Biden-Harris Administration’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we will be better equipped to meet the rebounding travel demand and ensure our residents and visitors have one of the best passenger experiences in the world.”

Planned upgrades at Terminal 3 that will be financed by this federal grant include eligible work related to:

  • Reconfiguration of a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoint, providing space for modern and more efficient screening equipment
  • An expanded passenger corridor between Concourse K and Concourse L, tripling the corridor’s width
  • Expansion of the hold-room space at Gates K1 and L2A, dramatically improving the passenger experience
  • Some 10,000 square feet of new concessions and amenity spaces
  • Upgrades to the terminal’s baggage facilities and systems
  • Renovated restrooms and a new family restroom
  • Other renovations of the terminal’s interior and exterior structures and systems, which will improve overall energy efficiency

“Terminal 3 is an iconic piece of Chicago infrastructure that must remain a key part of the nation’s aviation system for decades to come,” says Commissioner Jamie. L. Rhee of the Chicago Department of Aviation, which owns and operates both O’Hare and Midway international airports. “I thank the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration for recognizing the importance of upgrading these facilities, and we look forward to working with our partners in the construction trades to ensure this project continues to further Mayor Lightfoot’s vision for building capacity among Black and Brown entrepreneurs.”

The estimated $200 million project at Terminal 3 is a component of O’Hare 21, Chicago’s vision for a 21st-century airport. The balance of the Terminal 3 upgrade will be paid for by previously allocated federal funds and airline rates and charges. Construction is scheduled to begin this summer and will be undertaken in phases to minimize disruption to terminal operations during construction, with an anticipated completion date of 2025.

A key component of the grant  is the Chicago Department of Aviation’s commitment to employment, education, and training opportunities for individuals from historically disadvantaged communities. This includes the O’Hare Bid & Resource Center, which will partner with local community-based organizations to offer resources in disinvested Chicago communities, hosting career expos, and establishing an internship partnership with Chicago Public Schools.