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$3.4 million dollars!

O'Hare Int'l Airport

U.S. Dept. of Transportation Sec. Ray LaHood, a former Illinois Congressman, joined Illinois U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin and Chicago Mayor Richard Daley this week for a seemingly triumphant announcement regarding O’Hare international airport expansion. DOT will provide Chicago $3.4 million build an air traffic control tower that will serve a planned runway, reports the Chicago Tribune’s Jon Hilkevitch. However, this $3.4 million grant is akin to when Austin Powers foe Dr. Evil emerged from the 1960′s to demand a million dollars:  It sounds like a lot of money… but the tower will cost $42 million to build. With the state of Illinois and city of Chicago facing record budget deficits, and private airlines (not in great shape themselves) declining to contribute, it’s unclear where or when this other $39 million will come from.

And so it goes with the epic O’Hare Modernization program.

DOT has committed $800 million to expansion, the largest sum ever to a single airport improvement plan. However, the project is expected to cost $15 billion. There have been concrete steps forward in the O’Hare modernization plan. But Daley will retire in May with his one of his signature urban planning projects nowhere near completion.

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