In his State of the Union Address, President Obama reminded us that for America to compete and prosper in the 21st century, we need to build the fastest, safest, and most reliable ways to move people and products. Well, today, the Department of Transportation is taking another significant step toward that objective at one of America’s most important transportation hubs, O'Hare International Airport.
I'm pleased to announce that we've achieved a major breakthrough in our efforts to push forward the O'Hare Modernization Program, add runway capacity, and reduce flight delays throughout our nation's aviation system. Specifically, we have an agreement in place that allows work to begin on a new south runway and other taxiway and airfield improvements needed to deal with increasing traffic at the airport.
Adding capacity to America's second busiest airport will improve service for air travelers across the country. Because 64 million passengers use O'Hare each year--connecting to 130 domestic airports--anything we can do to move airplanes in and out more safely and efficiently has national economic significance.
The O’Hare Modernization Program is one of the largest construction projects in the country. The first phase of the program alone includes two new runways, a runway extension, and a new air traffic control tower. When the program is complete, O’Hare will have eight modern runways, reducing flight delays and improving efficiency for travelers throughout the country.
The nearly $1.2 billion the O'Hare Modernization Program injects will create jobs now and lay the foundation for future economic competitiveness. This is what the President meant when he urged us to dream big and build big. And DOT is helping get the job done.
This is a big deal. It's a big deal for the City of Chicago and the State of Illinois, of course. But O'Hare plays a central role in America's aviation network, and that makes this a big deal for all of us.
So, I welcome the cooperation of the City, of United Airlines, and of American Airlines. And I want to thank Mayor Daley, United CEO Jeff Smisek, and American CEO Gerard Arpey for remembering what's possible when we set aside our differences and serve the needs of our citizens and customers. That's how we build big, and that's how we win the future.