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Anti-O'Hare Noise Group Demands Meeting With New Aviation Commissioner

 A plan on its way to O'Hare Airport.
A plan on its way to O'Hare Airport.
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Flickr/Ian Petchenik

O'HARE — Members of an anti-O'Hare Airport noise group called on the city's new aviation commissioner to meet with them within three days of starting her new job June 1 to discuss how to reduce jet noise over the Northwest Side.

Members of the Fair Allocation in Runways Coalition called on Chicago Department of Aviation Commissioner Ginger Evans to work directly with them to find "community-based solutions to the massive increase in planes, noise and air pollution" caused by planes using the airport's newest east-west runway, according to a statement from the group.

City officials did not respond to repeated requests for a response to the coalition's demand.

The coalition condemned Mayor Rahm Emanuel for selecting Evans without any input from the group or residents who are angry that the sound of jets using a new east-west runway at O'Hare make it impossible to sleep, spend time in their backyards, play in neighborhood parks or watch television. The residents have blanketed local and federal officials with complaints for more than 2½ years.

Heather Cherone says the group is trying to save the diagonal runways:

Evans will take the top job overseeing O'Hare and Midway airports six months after former aviation commissioner Rosemarie Andolino stepped down.

"FAiR stands ready to work with Chicago's new head of the CDA and hopes Ms. Evans is ready and willing to engage and work along side citizens and civics of O'Hare's neighboring communities in the decisions that have and will continue to have such a significant impact on quality of life," said Jim Argionis, a member of the FAiR Leadership team.

Evans, who has worked in aviation and engineering for 30 years, ran Reagan National and Dulles International airports. She will earn $300,000 a year, and could add another $100,000 to her paychecks if she earns performance-based bonuses, officials said.

City officials contend the 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 allow 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.

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