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Emanuel reaches $1.3 billion deal for new O'Hare runway

Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel speaks at the commissioning of runway 10R-28L as Chicago aviation commissioner Ginger Evans looks on at O'Hare Airport in Chicago on Thursday, Oct. 15, 2015. | Tim Boyle/For the Sun-Times

Mayor Rahm Emanuel plans to announce an agreement Sunday between the city and major airlines on a $1.3 billion plan to build a new runway at O’Hare Airport — which city officials hope will lead to new gates and other terminal improvements to help reduce delays.

The last runway proposed under the city’s O’Hare Modernization Project, it would be a major step for O’Hare.

But new gates aren’t part of the agreement involving the city, the Federal Aviation Administration, United Airlines, American Airlines and U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, and Mark Kirk, R-Illinois.

The city still needs to work out a deal with airlines to add more gates and terminal space at O’Hare.

The runway project received $345 million in U.S. Department of Transportation funding, with $60 million in recent additional funding from the FAA. It also received $200 million from passenger fees, $103 million from the airlines and $619 million more in airline-funded projects for airfield work.

After the completion of the runway in 2020, the focus will shift to customer upgrades, like increasing amenities for passengers, under Emanuel’s plan, which ultimately calls for increasing the number of gates at O’Hare and modernizing and expanding the airport’s terminals.Emanuel also plans to announce that negotiations have begun for leases with airlines operating at O’Hare and that he expects those to be finalized in 2018.He also plans to build a new hotel at O’Hare, provide long-sought western access to the airport and make it easier for people to get to and from the airport.The plan also includes adding de-icing pads and other projects that city officials say will lead to new gates and terminal modernization.

A new crossfield taxiway system is also planned to connect the north and south airfields and cut taxiing times for arriving planes.

The city says the new runway — which, at 11,245 feet long and 200 feet wide, will be O’Hare’s second-biggest — will improve on-time flight performance by increasing the capacity of the airport.

Work on the runway is set to begin in May. The Emanuel administration says the work will create more than 5,000 construction and professional services jobs.

Regarding the added noise from another O’Hare runway, Emanuel aides say the city will “ensure” sound insulation for all homes and schools before the runway opens.