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O’Hare Expansion To Proceed After Court Decision

St. Johannes Cemetery

St. Johannes Cemetery near O’Hare International Airport. (CBS File Photo)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – An Illinois Supreme Court decision clears the way for the City of Chicago to move ahead with the O’Hare expansion project.

The Supreme Court refused to review a lower court decision allowing the city to move about 1,000 graves from St. Johannes Cemetery in Bensenville, which is in the path of a new runway.

St. John’s United Church of Christ, which operates the 6.3-acre cemetery, argued that it would be too painful for families with loved ones buried there.

The city is working with the families to relocate the gravesites.

Late last year, the City Council approved a plan to issue $1 billion in bonds for the O’Hare expansion project. Last week, reports surfaced that Moody’s had downgraded some of the bonds, because the city has been unable to get financial support from the airlines.

The O’Hare Modernization Program calls for building one new runway, extending another runway and relocating a third. A new northern runway opened in November 2008.

In addition to the relocation of the cemetery, about 500 former homes and businesses in Bensenville are being demolished to make way for the expanded airport.

Overall, the $15 billion expansion project is less than halfway done.

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