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O'Hare Jet Noise Impact Should be Studied, State Reps. Say

 A jet lands at O'Hare Airport.
A jet lands at O'Hare Airport.
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O'HARE — The impact of racket made by jets using O'Hare International Airport's new runway on nearby residents' quality of life should be the focus of an "exhaustive" study, say two state representatives.

State Reps. Michael McAuliffe (D-Chicago) and Dennis Reboletti (R-Elmhurst) introduced a bill Wednesday to require state transportation officials to measure the effect of hundreds of additional flights over homes on the Far Northwest Side of Chicago and in the western suburbs that had little or no jet noise in previous years.

"Our goal is to make sure that local residents’ health and well-being are given full consideration, particularly those who now live adjacent to the new flight paths,” said McAuliffe, whose 20th District includes parts of the Norwood Park and O'Hare neighborhoods. 

With the opening of a new runway last October as part of the $6.6 billion O'Hare Modernization Plan, most planes now take off toward the west, while arrivals approach from the east.

Federal aviation officials said the flight patterns at O'Hare are designed to ensure the airport operates as efficiently and as safely as possible.

The bill would direct the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and the Illinois Department of Transportation to study the levels of noise pollution, air pollution, the emission of gases and fluids by aircraft as well as property values and other factors that contribute to the quality of life for those who live near O'Hare.

In March, 11,145 complaints were made to the city-run toll-free hotline, 50 percent more complaints than were filed in February, and 645 percent more than the number of complaints filed in March 2013, before the runway opened.

The study would "pay special attention" to whether more homes should qualify for government-subsidized soundproofing, such as new attic insulation, air conditioning, exterior doors, storm doors and windows that block all noise, Reboletti said.

Before the new runway opened last year, Federal Aviation Administration officials rejected calls to complete additional environmental studies of the noise and pollution caused by the new flight pattern, saying a study completed in 2004 was sufficient.

However, that study was based on computer projections of the flight paths, and a new study based on actual data should be conducted, McAuliffe said, adding that additional noise monitors should be installed throughout the area around the airport to gather accurate data.

The bill would require state environmental and transportation officials to deliver their report to the General Assembly by Oct. 31.