I’m glad that Senator Obama’s commitment to decreasing spending isn’t going to derail the commitment to expand O’Hare. I’m not sure what Chicago would do without reconfiguring the runways despite the concerns of the airlines and flight controllers that the changes are going to increase risks and increases costs.
Claims that the government is underestimating the costs and overestimating the benefits should just be accepted as a given. In fact, by the FAA’s estimates any gains to congestion relief will likely reappear within five years. When the primary benefactors of a project refuse to actually fund the project, chances are that it isn’t needed anyway. There are two airports within public transportation range of Chicago that are under-utilitized; the O’hare expansion is just an effort by the airlines to subsidize the flawed hub and spoke operation model that the majors cling to.
I guess it comes at no surprise that a centrally planned project is going to over promise and under deliver, but I think that you can oppose this plan on the merits without even having to argue that free markets would do a much better job at providing consumers with precisely the right number of runways at precisely the cost they would be willing to pay.