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Chicago O’Hare Launches $300 Million Terminal 3 Reconstruction Project

The ElevateT3 project, set to be completed in the summer of 2027, will modernize the terminal for the 21st century and improve the passenger experience

by Fergus Cole

April 24, 2024

Photo: Courtesy of Studio Gang

The groundbreaking ceremony of the $300 million Terminal 3 reconstruction project at Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) on April 22 was attended by Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson, other Illinois elected officials, and key federal and aviation leaders.

The ElevateT3 modernization project, part of the O’Hare 21 initiative, aims to modernize the airport for the 21st century and transform it into one of the most connected, efficient, and accessible airports in the United States.

The project will be partly financed by a $90 million package from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

As part of the modernization project, the airport will add new security screening checkpoints, expand gate spaces, and improve baggage claim areas. These upgrades will undoubtedly enhance the passenger experience, making travel through the airport smoother, faster, and more comfortable.

“Today marks a significant step forward in redefining the travel experience at O’Hare International Airport through the ElevateT3 project,” said Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson. “This transformative initiative not only boosts our infrastructure but also strengthens Chicago’s position as a global aviation leader, thanks to substantial support from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.”

Under the makeover plans, expected to be completed in 2027, two Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoints will be merged into a single screening area, allowing for modernized and more efficient operations. Meanwhile, the passenger corridor between Concourse K and Concourse L will be expanded to triple the current width, and the holdroom spaces at Gates K1 and L2A will also be drastically expanded for an enhanced passenger experience.

Other redevelopment plans include revamping the baggage claim area and updating baggage handling systems, constructing around 10,000 square feet of new concessions and amenity spaces, updating restrooms, and adding a family restroom.

The project will also involve renovating the terminal’s interior and exterior structure to improve energy efficiency.

“Supported by funding from the Biden-Harris Administration’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Terminal 3 Improvements will include the latest technology, provide enhanced energy efficiencies, and reduce emissions,” said Shannetta R. Griffin, P.E., Associate Administrator for Airports at the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA).

“This project will have a significant impact on the people who travel in and out of Chicago O’Hare and change the lives of those in the Chicago community as a whole.”

Photo: Courtesy of Studio Gang

Chicago O’Hare is a major hub for American Airlines and United Airlines. However, American will be the more affected by the redevelopment project as its departure gates are located in Terminal 3.

The nation’s largest airline shares the terminal with its oneworld partners, including British Airways, Iberia, and Japan Airlines.

However, while the ElevateT3 project is expected to last for around three years, with a completion date set for the summer of 2027, the construction will be carried out in a phased approach to ensure minimal disruption to these airlines’ operations.

Photo: Courtesy of Chicago O’Hare Airport

“Chicago is an important hub in our global network, and we are thrilled about another investment in the future of O’Hare Airport – especially in Terminal 3, where American and our oneworld partners operate hundreds of daily flights worldwide,” said Nate Gatten, Executive Vice President at American Airlines.

“These improvements will contribute to a more efficient operation and an upgraded travel experience for our customers. We thank the Biden-Harris administration and the FAA for their support of airport modernizations, as well as Mayor Brandon Johnson and the CDA for their continued partnership.”