New Heliport Coming to Downtown Chicago

The Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) is pleased to announce that construction of a downtown heliport is scheduled to begin in 2015, pending FAA approval and procurement of the land. The heliport will be located between the Chicago River and Lake Shore Drive, east of the Magnificent Mile.

The new heliport will be a welcome addition to the downtown area, providing an easy and efficient way for travelers and tourists to reach their destinations in the Loop. The facility will include three landing pads near the river, with two additional pads on the opposite side of Lake Shore Drive. It will also house a new terminal building that will be connected to the Michigan Avenue Bridge by an elevated walkway.

In addition to being convenient for travelers, this project will provide economic benefits to Chicago as well. A study done by Professor David Sachs of Northwestern University estimates that once operational, the new heliport could contribute up to $500 million annually in revenue for CDA and other local businesses.

CDA is currently seeking bids from contractors interested in designing and constructing this facility. Additional information can be found at our website:

The Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) is pleased to announce the construction of a new Downtown Heliport at 312 E North Water Street. The project will provide a new home for helicopter operations currently based on the South Side at Meigs Field and provide the infrastructure necessary to support additional helicopter services for the downtown area.

The new heliport facility will consist of one South/North parallel runway measuring 150 feet by 100 feet and one West/East crosswind runway measuring 75 feet by 100 feet. A helipad located on the roof of the adjacent building at 333 E North Water Street will be used as an alternate landing area when wind conditions prohibit using either runway. Runway lighting and approach lights will be provided for night operations.

In addition to providing a permanent home for two local aerial tour companies, the construction of the Chicago Downtown Heliport will increase access by emergency medical service helicopters and police helicopters to the downtown area. This improved access will enhance the ability of these organizations to respond to calls in a timely manner and provide increased safety for aircrews flying in and out of downtown Chicago.

The final pieces are coming together for the opening of Chicago’s first downtown heliport. It will be located on an old warehouse pier at Polk and N. Water Sts., and is scheduled to open later this month.

The new heliport will not only mean shorter travel times for suburban commuters, but will also bring a new level of visibility to Chicago’s burgeoning helicopter industry. With over 120 helicopters based in the Chicago area, our city is one of the largest helicopter markets in the country. But until now, we’ve never had a heliport within the city limits. That should change with the opening of this facility.

It sounds impressive that there are over 120 helicopters based here, but it’s important to look at those numbers in perspective. There are actually more cars than that parked on Lake Shore Drive alone each day! So while helicopters may be useful for some purposes, they’re hardly about to replace our automobile-based transportation system any time soon.

Last fall, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced the city would build a new heliport to be located on Northerly Island. The facility is projected to be completed by December 2016 and will operate as an extension of the existing Chicago Executive Airport in Wheeling.

The new heliport has several advantages over the current Chicago helicopter service alternative, which is an underutilized heliport near Meigs Field on Lake Michigan. The location on Northerly Island provides greater access for those traveling from downtown hotels and businesses and eliminates the need for a boat ride to reach the landing site.

In addition, the new heliport will allow for more efficient aircraft fueling than can currently be achieved at Meigs Field. This will minimize flight delays and minimize wait times for passengers.

For those seeking a more economic option when traveling from O’Hare or Midway airports to downtown Chicago, helicopter transportation continues to be considered as an alternative mode of travel. For example, a taxi ride from either airport can take anywhere between 45-60 minutes with average fares ranging between $35-$50. Helicopter transportation costs about $150 per person and takes approximately 12 minutes.

The Chicago Department of Aviation’s (CDA) Office of Environment, Health, and Safety (OEHS) will host a Community Forum to discuss the proposed Heliport at 312 East North Water Street on Wednesday, November 2, 2011 at 6:00 p.m. at the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 East Washington Street in the 4th Floor Garland Room.

The forum is an opportunity for residents to learn about the project, ask questions of CDA staff and provide comments to CDA staff. The forum will be conducted in an open house format with informational stations staffed by CDA staff available to answer questions and receive comments from attendees. The forum will last from 6:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m.

This is not a public hearing; however, should you wish to make your comments part of the official record for this project, you may submit them in writing prior to or during the meeting to: Chicago Department of Aviation, Office of Environment, Health and Safety c/o Meegan Williams, O’Hare Modernization Program Manager P.O. Box 66142

Chicago, IL 60666-0142

All written comments received by November 14th will be included in a response letter that will be posted on the

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