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Voters Tell Federal Officials to Reduce O'Hare Noise by Wide Margin

By Heather Cherone | November 4, 2014 9:40pm | Updated on November 5, 2014 7:09am
 A plane flies over Jefferson Park.
A plane flies over Jefferson Park.
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DNAinfo/Heather Cherone

O’HARE — Residents fed up with the racket made by jets using O'Hare Airport's newest runway went to the polls Tuesday and told federal officials to put a sock in it.

More than 78 percent of Chicago voters urged Congress to allow more homes to qualify for subsidized soundproofing, such as new attic insulation, air conditioning, exterior doors, storm doors and windows that block all noise, according to unofficial results Wednesday morning.

The advisory referendum on Tuesday's ballot was the first chance for voters to register their anger at the noise caused by planes using an east-west runway at O'Hare Airport. It was sponsored by Ald. Mary O'Connor (41st) and Ald. Margaret Laurino (39th).

The Federal Aviation Administration is conducting a study that could allow more homes to qualify for subsidized soundproofing that is expected to be completed in mid-2016.

In August, 30,249 complaints were made to the city-run toll-free hotline and website, more complaints than were filed in all of 2013, according to the most recent data released by the O'Hare Noise Compatibility Commission.

Since August 2013 — before the new east-west runway opened last fall as part of the O'Hare Modernization Program — the number of complaints have skyrocketed more than 1,200 percent, according to data from the noise commission.

While federal aviation officials said flight patterns at O'Hare are designed to ensure the airport operates as efficiently and safely as possible, residents of many Northwest Side neighborhoods that had little-to-no jet noise before the new runway opened a year ago said the change had made it impossible for them to sleep, lowered the value of their homes and polluted the air in their neighborhoods.

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