A new $1.3 billion runway is open at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport.

Planes started landing and taking off on the 10,800-foot runway at 6 a.m. on Thursday. Officials say it will begin to ease the airport’s congestion and eliminate flight delays that have a ripple effect across the country.

Chicago Department of Aviation officials say the new runway will allow there to be nearly 90,000 more flights every year while cutting delays in half.

The opening of the runway also marks the end of the first phase of the O’Hare Modernization Program. It started ten years ago and is projected to cost $8 billion.

Copyright (2013) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Tags: chicago, o'hare
Photo Credit: Travelers walking to a ticketing desk at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago. Nam Y. Huh / Associated Press