Mayor Lori E Lightfoot and the Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) have announced the reopening of seven renovated pedestrian tunnels beneath the Lower Level Roadway at O’Hare International Airport ahead of the busy July 4 travel season.

“These new tunnels provide a more vibrant and inviting welcome to Chicago for travellers connecting between the Terminals and the CTA Blue Line station, O’Hare’s Elevated Parking Structure, or the Hilton Chicago O’Hare Airport Hotel,” CDA Commissioner Jamie L. Rhee said. “The work involved crucial infrastructural repairs while updating the tunnels with a beautiful, modern design and energy-efficient lighting improvements.”

The CDA’s design and construction contractors performed remediation work for water infiltration that affected the original cast-in-place reinforced concrete tunnels, which were constructed in the 1970s. During periods of heavy rain, groundwater would leak into the tunnels, requiring frequent maintenance over the past decade to repair damage to interior architectural features.

Crews used 3D laser scans of the tunnels to facilitate the repairs, which were conducted in conjunction with interior renovation work. The new designs, inspired by Chicago’s vibrant history and commitment to sustainability, feature wood finishes and asymmetrical curved metal wall and ceiling panels. Each tunnel features its own distinct floor finish pattern. 

Large LED screens break up the linearity of the tunnels. The screens display vibrant scenes of the city, important travel information, and can be used to broadcast emergency notices if needed.

The first three completed tunnels — PC5 in Terminal 3, PC3 in Terminal 2 and PC1 in Terminal 1— reopened in November 2021, the week before Thanksgiving. Tunnel PC7 in Terminal 3, which closed for construction in August 2021, reopened in February.

Work on tunnels PC2 in Terminal 1, PC4 in Terminal 2, and PC6 in Terminal 3, which closed for renovations in November 2021, were completed in recent weeks. All tunnels have since been reopened to the public and are ready to connect travellers to O’Hare’s terminals.


Images: Chicago Department of Aviation