This older question asks at what interval planes take off and land from ORD. The accepted answer (one takeoff or landing every 30-40 seconds) jives with my math: 2416 operations a day on average, with winds in a non-cardinal direction all those flights must use just two runways, so worst-case each runway would have a plane rolling along it every 75 seconds round the clock (so a plane takes off or lands from somewhere in the airport every 37.5 seconds).
My question is, how? At that rate, approaching planes would be spaced a scant two and a half minutes apart, and as soon as a landing plane passed over the numbers, a departing plane would be told to line up, then to take off as soon as the landing plane had cleared the runway, and if they hesitate even a few seconds the plane behind them would have to go around. How is this traffic density maintained long-term, especially since, like any airport, it has peak periods of activity exceeding the average?
Follow-up question; is ORD as bad as it gets, or are there "denser" airports with lower total aircraft movements but fewer runways? I heard Heathrow is so bad its airspace is ICAO Class A, prohibiting VFR flights entirely, in part due to the fact the airport handles practically every international flight into London on just two runways.