Hundreds of state, local and federal officials and members of the public took part today as the Gary/Chicago International Airport officially opened its $174 million runway extension. Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson says the airport's future "has never looked brighter," thanks to the decade-long project.

The project faced multiple hurdles over the last several years, including large patches of soil contamination and the rerouting of multiple railroad tracks. Crews finished the newly-extended 8,900-foot main runway last month.

The city says the project positions the airport to attract more types of aircraft and serve more markets.

The project came about because of a 1999 Federal Aviation Administration decision mandating Runway Safety Areas. The be compliant, the Gary/Chicago International Airport said it would extend its runway by 1,900 feet.

In a release, Mayor Freeman-Wilson said, "Since taking office in January 2012, the Runway Expansion Project has been one of the priorities of my administration. It has been a long journey to get where we are today, working with multiple regulatory agencies and adhering to federal and state mandates at every step. Today we can celebrate because the Gary/International Airport’s future has never looked brighter.  We thank and commend all the team members involved in this process."

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