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Fed Up with Jet Noise? Call Your State Representative, Group Urges

 A plan soars over the Northwest Side, where noise complaints are at an all-time high.
A plan soars over the Northwest Side, where noise complaints are at an all-time high.
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DNAinfo/Heather Cherone

NORWOOD PARK — Northwest Side residents who have had enough of the constant roar of planes over their houses should fire up their speed dials, an anti-O'Hare Noise group urged Monday.

Two bills approved last week by the Illinois Senate are designed to spread out the racket caused by planes traveling to and from O'Hare Airport more equitably around the city and suburbs, said State Sen. John Mulroe (D-Norwood Park) who authored the bills with the assistance of members of the Fair Allocation in Runways Coalition.

"People are crying for help," Mulroe said.

Heather Cherone says this measure is one of the last options:

One bill would allow O'Hare to operate 10 runways. The airport now operates eight runways, with one of the diagonal runways set to be taken out of service in Aug. 20 as a new east-west runway prepares to open to traffic Oct. 15.

The other bill would prevent airport officials from tearing up any diagonal runways, Mulroe said.

"Just so we don't have another Meigs Field situation," Mulroe said, referring to former Mayor Richard M. Daley's decision to tear up the runways at the downtown airport that he wanted to turn into a park under the cover of night.

A new runway set to open in October could send even more air traffic over Edison Park, Norwood Park, Jefferson Park, North Park and Sauganash, where residents heard little to no traffic before an east-west runway opened in 2013, according to the coalition.

If the diagonal runway is decommissioned, the options for spreading out the traffic — and reducing the racket over the Northwest Side — will be limited, according to the coalition.

The coalition on Monday asked members to contact House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie, who could allow the bills to languish or move them forward for hearings and a vote.

"Our collective voice and our action is essential right now," said Jac Charlier, a founder of the coalition.

The uncertain fate of the bills in the Illinois House of Representatives comes despite their unanimous approval by the Illinois State Senate, Mulroe said. Whether Gov. Bruce Rauner would sign the bills is also unclear, Mulroe said.

"If nothing else, these bills will draw people in to have a conversation," Mulroe said.

City officials contend O'Hare Modernization Plan — designed to make airport operations safer and more efficient — is crucial to ensuring Chicago's growth by keeping the airport among the busiest in the world, encouraging both business travelers and tourists to visit Chicago.

The east-west runways allows planes to take off and land without crossing paths with other jets while on the ground, which aviation officials said are designed to reduce delays and increase safety.

In January, 39,500 complaints were filed with city officials — an all-time record and a 525 percent increase from the number of jet noise complaints filed in January 2014, according to data released by the O'Hare Noise Compatibility Commission.

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