Chicago Department of Aviation

Frequently Asked Questions

This page is designed to provide answers to the most commonly asked questions regarding O’Hare 21 and the Terminal Area Plan (TAP). The questions are organized by category: general questions, contracting, construction and planning.


Question 1: What is O’Hare 21?

O’Hare 21 includes all projects associated with expanding O’Hare’s capacity and connectivity and improving customer service at facilities including and surrounding the terminals. This includes projects that are completed, under construction, or planned.

The major projects of O’Hare 21 are:

  • The Terminal Area Plan (TAP)
  • Completion of the O’Hare Modernization Program (OMP) major airfield projects
    • Runway 9C-27C
    • Runway 9R-27L extension
  • Terminal 5 Concourse M gate expansion
  • Terminal 3 Concourse L expansion
  • Central deicing pad
  • On-airport hotel developments
  • Northeast cargo development
  • 15-Year O’Hare Capital Improvement Plan (CIP)
  • Various enabling and associated projects associated with the above

Question 2: What is the Terminal Area Plan (TAP)?

The TAP is a subset of O’Hare 21 and provides for a new terminal and three new concourses. TAP supports long-term development for the future of O’Hare passenger terminal facilities. The TAP consists of several major elements that are part of the first phase, which received airline funding approval in conjunction with the signing of the Airline Use and Lease Agreement in spring 2018. The TAP also includes projects (e.g., post-security Automated People Mover, additional satellite concourses, and a western terminal) that do not yet have funding approval but will provide longer-term gate expansions, additional facility modernizations, and further passenger amenities to complement the first phase projects. 

Question 3: What are the objectives of the Terminal Area Plan?

The core objectives of TAP include:

  • Add 25 percent more gate capacity in the first phase
  • Modernize and replace the oldest terminal facilities at O’Hare
  • Integrate domestic and international terminal operations and enhance passenger and baggage connectivity through:
    • New global terminal to house expanded immigration and customs facilities
    • Co-location of domestic and international arrival gates
    • Ability for airlines in alliances to consolidate operations within a single terminal facility, positioning O’Hare to be a global alliance hub for all three major airline alliances:
      • Star Alliance, of which United Airlines is a member
      • Oneworld, of which American Airlines is a member
      • Skyteam, of which Delta Air Lines is a member
  • Improve the passenger experience through:
    • Expanded travel options resulting from increased gate capacity and airline competition
    • Reduction in security wait times due to new security screening checkpoints that integrate the latest screening technology
    • Replacement of baggage handling systems that improve screening and sorting of passenger baggage 
    • Reduction in airfield congestion and ground delay resulting from lack of aircraft parking positions

Question 4: How much of the Terminal Area Plan (TAP) has received airline funding approval?

The first phase of TAP received airline funding approval under the O’Hare Airline Use and Lease Agreement. The projects in this first phase of TAP total approximately $6.1 billion and include:

    • Redevelopment of Terminal 2 into the O’Hare Global Terminal and O’Hare Global Concourse
    • Two satellite concourses
    • Terminal 3 Concourse L “Stinger” 3-gate expansion
    • Repurposing of Terminal 5 to accommodate a mix of domestic and international traffic
    • New baggage handling systems in all passenger terminals
    • Western Facility, including employee screening, ground transportation functions, and employee parking
    • Pedestrian, baggage, and utility tunnel that will connect the satellite concourses to the O’Hare Global Terminal. This tunnel will also preserve underground space to accommodate an Automated People Mover (APM) to be provided in future phases.
    • Expansion of Terminal 5 curbside and roadway capacity and development of a new parking garage
    • Expanded Airport Transit System bridge and platform at the O’Hare Global Terminal
    • Modifications to existing facilities to facilitate the implementation TAP projects

Question 5: What are the additional elements of the TAP that are not included in the first phase?

The full TAP (long term plan) includes projects that are not part of the first phase, including:

    • Redevelopment of Terminal 3
    • Two additional satellite concourses and an extension of one of the satellite concourses to be developed in the first phase
    • Redevelopment of Terminal 1 Concourses B and C and Terminal 3 Concourse G
    • Expansions to baggage handling systems in the O’Hare Global Terminal and satellite concourses
    • Western Facility, including passenger screening, ground transportation functions, and passenger parking that will complement employee screening and parking facilities developed in the first phase
    • Automated People Mover (APM), pedestrian, baggage, and utility tunnel that will connect all satellite concourses to the O’Hare Global Terminal, redeveloped Terminal 3, and Western Facility
    • Reconstruction and expansion of the parking garage at Terminals 1, 2, and 3
    • Expansion of Terminal 5 roadway and parking garage capacity, complementing projects at Terminal 5 that are part of the first phase
    • Modifications to existing facilities to facilitate the implementation TAP projects

Question 6: When will O’Hare 21 be completed?

The first phase of the TAP that received airline funding approval is anticipated to be completed by 2026. However, several O’Hare 21 projects have already been completed and many O’Hare 21 and TAP projects will be completed sooner before the entirety of the first phase of TAP. Notable completion dates:

    • Northeast cargo development was completed in 2016
    • Terminal 3 Concourse L “Stinger” 5-gate expansion was completed in 2018
    • Central deicing pad is anticipated to be completed in 2018
    • Runway 9C-27C is anticipated to be completed in 2020
    • Runway 9R-27L extension is anticipated to be completed in 2021
    • Terminal 5 Concourse M gate expansion is anticipated to be completed in 2021
    • TAP projects in the first phase are anticipated to be completed between 2021 and 2026, including the O’Hare Global Terminal, O’Hare Global Concourse, two satellite concourses, Terminal 5 curbside, roadway, and parking expansions, and Western Facility

Question 7: What is the economic impact of O’Hare 21?

O’Hare 21 will contribute an additional $16 billion per year to the (Cook) County economy once the terminal expansion is complete.

Question 8: How many jobs will be created by O’Hare 21?

O’Hare 21 creates 62,000 total design and construction full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs through 2026. Aside from construction jobs there will professional service jobs that support construction and direct and indirect jobs created. O’Hare 21 is projected to increase annual FTE jobs in Cook County from 403,000 today to 450,000 in 2026. When you include the Nine-County Region surrounding the airport, O’Hare 21 is projected to increase annual FTE jobs from 540,000 today to 615,000 in 2026.

Question 9: What is the Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) doing to help Chicagoans access these new jobs?

The CDA is working on a comprehensive workforce development strategy for the jobs associated with the TAP. The CDA will continue to host regular job fairs in partnership with contractors, unions, and community leaders to connect residents with viable jobs on O’Hare’s capital projects. The CDA will leverage its partnerships around the city to get local residents on track to fill the positions needed to modernize O’Hare. This includes everything from more opportunities for apprenticeships; to enhanced engagement and outreach for professional services jobs.


Question 10: Will the CDA be responsible for procuring all O’Hare 21 projects?

CDA will be in control of procuring major elements of O’Hare 21. Some projects will be procured and managed by individual airlines but will conform to minority- or women-owned business enterprise (MBE or WBE) procurement policies established by the City of Chicago.

Question 11: How will the CDA procure contracts for O’Hare 21 projects?

Similar to every other City of Chicago department, the Chicago Department of Aviation procures contracts in accordance with municipal, state and federal laws, and in coordination with the City of Chicago Department of Procurement Services (DPS). The majority of the City’s contracts are awarded through a competitive bidding process, and in accordance with City ordinances passed to increase participation among diverse and local firms in all city construction projects.

For some contracts, including revenue bearing contracts, the CDA has an established process for procuring contracts using the following types of solicitations—all in accordance with the Federal Aviation Administration:

    • Competitive Bids, such as most construction or commodities, are based on low price
    • Requests for Proposals (RFP), where the scope of the project dictates that additional factors, such as specialized experience, are considered
    • Request for Qualifications (RFQ), which is used to create a pool of qualified candidates that user department can solicit for specific tasks. It is also used to shortlist candidates that will ultimately provide a price for specific scopes and result in a RFP.

Question 12: What architectural, design, or construction services does the CDA need to procure for O’Hare 21? When will these contracts be advertised?

There are several key procurements related to design and construction for O’Hare 21. The City of Chicago has already solicited bids and accepted submissions for certain services, and the City expects to advertise additional contract opportunities in 2018.

The CDA has already solicited and accepted bid submissions for Construction Manager-at-Risk and Architectural and Engineering Design Task Order Contracts. The proposals are under review.

The CDA intends to solicit bids for Lead Terminal Designer, Lead Civil Engineer (Airport People Mover (APM) Tunnel Design, Master Utility Design), Target Market Construction Management Services and Non-federal Construction Management. The CDA also intends to solicit bids via Design-Bid-Build for O’Hare 21 enabling projects not listed above.

Question 13: How can I find bid opportunities with the Chicago Department of Aviation?

Bid opportunities can be found:

    • By signing up for CDA Bid Alerts; bid opportunities will automatically be emailed to you on the date they are advertised. Click here to sign up for bid alerts.
    • On the CDA’s website,, Bids and Contracts section
    • In the Bid & Bond Room, located in City Hall Room 103, 121 N. LaSalle, Chicago, IL 60602
    • Classified section of the Chicago Sun-Times newspaper
    • On City of Chicago Department of Procurement Services (DPS) website,

Question 14: How can I find out when CDA bid opportunities are advertised?

The best and easiest way to be notified each time the CDA advertises a bid opportunity is to sign up for CDA Bid Alerts. Those who enroll will have CDA bid opportunities automatically emailed to them on the date they are advertised. To sign up to receive bid alerts, go to and click on the link to “Sign up for web alerts”, or click the link below:

Question 15: How do I obtain more information about bids when they are advertised?

When the City solicit bids it issues a bid package that includes basic information regarding the procurement, including the date of advertisement, due date for bids, date of the pre-bid conference, title, and brief description of the project or procurement. The bid package also includes instructions to bidders, bid pages, detailed specifications, disclosure form, bidder’s statement of its qualifications, and the general terms and conditions that govern the contract.

Bid packages are available in the Bid & Bond Room, located in City Hall Room 103, 121 N. LaSalle, Chicago, IL 60602

The CDA and DPS conduct pre-bid conferences for procurements to provide interested bidders with an opportunity to hear directly from CDA about its requirements, learn about the bidding process for the specific procurement involved, and ask questions of the CDA and DPS regarding the procurement. These meetings are an excellent networking opportunity for subcontractors to meet interested bidders. The time, date and location of the pre-bid conferences is available on the DPS website at

Question 16: Do I have to be on a pre-approved vendor list to bid on CDA contracts?

No, you do not need to be on a pre-approved list to bid with the City unless the bid is a Target Market solicitation. In that case, you must be a minority- or women-owned business enterprise (MBE or WBE Certified by the City of Chicago or Cook County. For more information about becoming MBE/WBE certified, visit

Question 17: Will all projects be open to all bidders or are there certain eligibility criteria for bidding on specific projects?

Most projects will be open to all bidders except for certain contracts that will be solicited as Target Market contracts. Procurements solicited as Target Market will only be open to minority- or women-owned business enterprise (MBE or WBE)certified by the City of Chicago or Cook County.

Question 18: In the full use and lease agreement, there are dates associated with each project. Are those dates accurate?

The dates shown in the use and lease agreement are based on the estimated project delivery schedule and are subject to change. The City of Chicago issues a Buying Plan each quarter forecast the goods and services that it expects to procure in the next 6 quarters, allowing businesses to prepare for upcoming solicitations. The latest version of the Buying Plan is always available from the DPS homepage:


Question 19: When will design and construction start on O’Hare TAP?

Contracts to support design and construction work for TAP began in 2018.

Question 20: How long will it take to get environmental approval for the TAP?

Federal approval of TAP, via environmental review by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), is required before construction can begin on TAP projects. The City of Chicago and FAA will complete a thorough and comprehensive analysis, including public review, over a period of approximately 18 months. 

Question 21: Has a Program Manager been selected for TAP?

Yes. The Connect Chicago Alliance, a joint venture comprised of Jacobs Project Management Co., GSG Consultants, Inc., J.A. Watts, Inc. and The Roderick Group, Inc. was selected to provide program management services for O’Hare 21 projects through a competitive Request for Qualifications (RFQ) process.

Question 22: Besides TAP Phase I, what other programs will the TAP Program Manager be responsible for?

The TAP Program Manager will also be responsible for the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) projects. The TAP and CIP programs together comprise the majority of O’Hare 21.

Question 23: What is the timeline or sequence for construction of TAP projects?

The Program Manager is currently working on the master program schedule. Also see answer to Question 6 “When will O’Hare 21 be completed?”

Question 24: What types of projects are under the CIP?

The projects vary from facility improvements to airfield rehabilitation projects to landside improvement projects. Projects include Runway 4R-22L pavement rehabilitation and existing terminal maintenance and interior improvements.

Question 25: Will the TAP Program Manager be responsible for the OMP projects?

The TAP Program Manager will not be responsible for the OMP projects that are already funded or newly funded.

Question 26: What OMP projects were funded under the Airline Use & Lease agreement?

The Runway 9R-27L extension and completion of Taxiway LL are OMP projects that received funding approval under the Airline Use & Lease agreement. Runway 9R/27L is the final runway component of the OMP and will complete O’Hare’s airfield as originally envisioned when the OMP was announced. Additional taxiway projects have funding approval under the CIP.

Question 27: When will the OMP be completed?

The OMP will be completed once the Runway 9R-27L extension project is commissioned. This is currently planned for 2021.

Question 28: Does TAP include projects for Western Access to O’Hare?

The initial plan is for the Elgin-O’Hare Western Access (EOWA) connection to serve a Western Facility, which will include employee parking with employee security screening and access to the airfield. Upon further TAP development and as demand dictates, the City will address any new passenger terminal on the west into the next decade.

Question 29: Will there be a Western Terminal in a future phase?

A western terminal is not being pursued or funded by the airlines at this time. Yet while the CDA’s first phase of TAP focuses initially on a significant upgrade to terminals, gates and the airport’s core, the funding agreement with airlines supports a substantial investment on the western side of O’Hare. Developing westward will allow the City to respond to the EOWA project that is still in development, and will position O’Hare to accommodate forecast demand.

Question 30: Are the hotel development projects planned for O’Hare part of TAP?

The three planned hotel development projects under O’Hare 21 are not part of the TAP. However, the development of on-airport hotels is a critical component of the overall O’Hare 21 vision and this work will coincide with the implementation of the first phase of the TAP.

The three hotel development projects include renovation of the existing Hilton hotel, a new hotel near Terminal 5, and a third hotel near the Multimodal Facility to be developed by a third party. The hotel development projects are anticipated to be completed in the timeframe from 2021 through 2023.

Question 31: What improvements will be made to Terminal 5?

Terminal 5 will receive a nearly $1 billion upgrade with the objective of expanding the terminal’s aircraft parking capacity by 25 percent for mixed domestic and international operations by U.S. and foreign flag airlines.

Major expansion and upgrades throughout Terminal 5 will include new technology and dynamic signage in the check-in hall, LED lighting improvements and security upgrades.

The terminal expansion will add nine gates to Concourse M and approximately 310,000 square feet of passenger terminal building area by extending the concourse eastward. Also included is an expansion of the building’s footprint between Gates M7 – M12, and reconfiguration of existing space to enlarge passenger security screening, expand baggage claim, and provide flexible use capability for domestic and international flights.

Question 32: What are the plans for the new Automated People Mover that would connect O’Hare’s terminal core to the satellite concourses?

The first phase of TAP includes a pedestrian, baggage, and utility tunnel that will connect the satellite concourses to the O’Hare Global Terminal. This tunnel will also preserve underground space to accommodate the APM in future phases.

The Terminal Area Plan includes an Automated People Mover (APM) as part of the full 30-year plan. Development of TAP projects outside of the first phase that received funding approval under the Airline Use and Lease Agreement will be based on triggers related to passenger activity levels and development of future facilities.

Question 33: Is O’Hare Express Rail included in O’Hare 21?

This project has independent utility from O’Hare 21 and approvals and financing are separate from the CDA. Once the proposal process has concluded, the CDA will expedite approvals for the portion of O’Hare Express Rail infrastructure on airport property. ​​​


Question 34: What is the O'Hare Use and Lease Agreement?

The new Terminal Area Plan is central to the Airline Use and Lease Agreement signed by the City and Airlines in spring 2018. Click here to view the O'Hare Airline Use and Lease Agreement ​​