The decision to begin removing equipment from one of O'Hare International Airport's diagonal runways earlier than expected is raising some eyebrows. The Chicago Sun-Times reports that the equipment removal, which now makes the runaway pretty much unusable for landings, comes at a time when two state bills have been proposed to keep the runway intact.
The runway in question was not expected to be demolished until next year, though Chicago Aviation Department representatives have said it would be deactivated in August. The equipment that has been removed has gone to a new runway that is slated for an October activation.
At least one person says the equipment removal at the diagonal O'Hare runaway conjures up the way in which Meigs Field, the tiny airport that was housed at what is now Northerly Island, met its demise. In March of 2003, bulldozers effectively destroyed Meigs Field overnight, at the instruction of then-Mayor Richard Daley.
"This is Mayor [Rahm] Emanuel's version of what Daley did to Meigs Field," Jac Charlier with the Fair Allocation in Runways Coalition told the newspaper. "It's Meigs Field all over again, just not with bulldozers."
Those who want to keep the diagonal runways say they could be used as part of a traffic pattern change that could help reduce jet noise that is now a problem for nearby residents due to a recent change at the airport to use parallel runways.
State Sen. John Mulroe (D-Chicago) is spearheading two pieces of legislation aimed at saving O'Hare's diagonal runways.
"We proposed legislation for this not to happen, and they are just going and doing it without even consulting us," the lawmaker, who may call on the Illinois Attorney General to get involved in the matter, told the newspaper. "They are trying to run around this, or run over us -- I don't know what they are doing but it's annoying."