In preparation for a multibillion-dollar expansion, the City of Chicago developed a master plan to consider future development scenarios at the Chicago O’Hare International Airport—the world’s busiest in terms of aircraft operations.

Why does this project matter?

The airport is surrounded by private land, a lively community of stakeholders, and biologically sensitive areas on the western side.

What is ESA doing to help?

ESA explored the environmental impacts of the potential master plan improvements including the construction or relocation of four east-west runways, expansion of terminal facilities, new on-airport roadways and the construction of additional support facilities. This effort included supporting the purpose and need, as well as evaluating design alternatives, overseeing natural resource evaluations, and leading the air quality analysis. During the air quality analysis, ESA established protocols and an approach to evaluate air toxics, a hot-button issue for many U.S. airports and their surrounding communities. The air quality analyses included emissions from aircraft operations and construction activity and evaluated multiple airfield configurations and forecast periods.

ESA consistently met fluctuating government and airport deadlines, collaborated with federal and state environmental protection agencies, served on the environmental impact statement decision-making management team, and participated in public involvement efforts.

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