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 John Miley and Matt Marquez/MEDILL

A new advertising campaign funded by the Citizens Against Government Waste calls the O'Hare Airport expansion project the "Runway to Nowhere."

O'Hare expansion opponents launch advertising campaign

by Matt Marquez and John Miley
Feb 17, 2009

Cook County Commissioner Tony Peraica and other suburban leaders raised the ante Tuesday in their bid to halt the O’Hare Modernization Program (OMP).

Their latest salvo: a television, radio and print advertising campaign calling the OMP a “Runway to Nowhere,” which will begin running next week.

The media blast, launched in a City Hall press conference, will be funded by non-profit watchdog group Citizens Against Government Waste. A statement by the campaign said that the Washington, D.C.-based group agreed to underwrite the advertisements because of its concern that the OMP was “potentially the largest taxpayer pork project ever” with an estimated $20 billion price tag.

John Geils, president of the village of Bensenville, which adjoins O'Hare, said at the press conference that no budget has been set for the campaign, but that Chicagoans must know that the OMP is “simply a huge waste of money.”

Peraica said the measure was also necessary to rally support from taxpayers and show Mayor Daley that the airport expansion – which includes the multi-phase construction of new runways and a passenger terminal – will not be tolerated.

“Enough is enough. It’s time to put the foot down,” he said.

Representatives of Mayor Daley’s office and the O’Hare Modernization Program could not be reached for comment.

The 30-second television spot urges viewers to call political representatives and tell them to cut funding for the OMP.

Attorney Joe Karaganis of the Suburban O’Hare Commission, a group that monitors O'Hare airport expansion developments, said that it’s not too late for people to make a difference because poor funding for the expansion has slowed construction, with the city’s budget problems piling ever higher.

“Phase two [of the project] is dead in the water. Parts of phase one are dead in the water,” he said, adding that Mayor Daley’s goal of completing the project by 2014 and in time for a possible Olympic bid was “pure fantasy.”

“The deadlines for getting the OMP finished by 2014 have long since passed,” Karaganis said. "Anybody who says that that project will be finished in time for the Olympics is not telling the truth.”