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LaHood announces federal funding for new O'Hare control tower

The Federal Aviation Administration is committing $3.4 million to the design of a new air traffic control tower at O'Hare Airport.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced the grant for the design of a South Air Traffic Control Tower, as part of the O'Hare Modernization Program. He was joined by Chicago Mayor Richard Daley and Illinois U.S. Senator Dick Durbin.

Durbin called the airport an "economic engine" and said the funding will lead to as many as 195,000 new jobs. "For those of us who are anxious to bring jobs to Illinois and keep the jobs we have, we understand that O'Hare is literally the central nervous system," Durbin said. "It is basically what we need to focus on in terms of building the strength of this local economy."

LaHood said the Department of Transportation also wants to help pay for construction of the tower. "Safety is our number-one priority, and that's what this tower is about," said LaHood.

Officials said the tower will be built in time for the opening of a new runway in 2015.

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