New York’s LaGuardia is not the only airport gearing up for a major makeover—Midway Airport in Chicago will also be getting a massive facelift.
While not as hectic as Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport (ORD), Midway International Airport (MDW) is the 30th-busiest airport in the United States in terms of passenger traffic. In 2014 annual passenger volume was 21,179,833, a 3.44% increase over total passenger traffic from 2013. It offers flights to 75 markets, including eight international destinations, and generates approximately $7 billion in economic activity each year.
One reason for Midway Airport’s growing popularity is that it is a major hub for Southwest Airlines. USA Today reports that the carrier accounts for 92% of the airport’s passengers.
Although it handles a lot of traffic, business travelers and visitors to the city complain that Midway Airport, located on Chicago’s south side, is small and lacks amenities. The $248 million improvement project will ameliorate some of these concerns. The makeover will add four more levels of parking and double the amount of space currently devoted to concession and retail outlets. Perhaps more importantly, it will include the creation of a new, 80,000-square-foot security hall designed to address long lines at security checkpoints. In addition, initial plans call for Midway’s existing pedestrian bridge over Cicero Avenue to be increased from 60 ft. to 300 ft.
In a press release Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel states, “Midway is more than an airport. It is an important economic engine for the City of Chicago…with this modernization we are making an essential investment in the future of Midway, but also the future of Chicago. Emanuel points out that the enhancements “will create jobs for Chicago’s residents, provide an improved experience for travelers from the garage to the gate, and ensure that our world class city has two world class airports.”
The proposed timeline is for the city of Chicago to receive bids on the project through mid-December 2015, evaluate them in first quarter 2016 and advance the proposal in the City Council in second quarter 2016.