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O'Hare Noise Complaints Skyrocket in August

By Heather Cherone | October 2, 2015 10:14am | Updated on October 5, 2015 8:28am
 A plan soars over the Northwest Side, where noise complaints were up this weekend.
A plan soars over the Northwest Side, where noise complaints were up this weekend.
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DNAinfo/Heather Cherone

O'HARE — Complaints about jet noise from Chicago rose 41 percent from July to August as residents of the Northwest Side continued to bombard city officials with objections to the racket made by planes using the newest east-west runway at O'Hare Airport.

In August, some 192,115 complaints were filed by Chicago residents with city officials, according to data released by the O'Hare Noise Compatibility Commission.

Approximately a quarter of those complaints came from six addresses, commission officials said.

The number of Chicagoans who complained about jet noise also rose 11 percent, according to the commission.

Source: O'Hare Noise Compatibility Commission [DNAinfo/Tanveer Ali]

The tally of complaints includes those logged through chicagonoisecomplaint.com, which was designed by Darrin Thomas, a member of the Fair Allocation in Runways Coalition, to allow angry residents to log their anger with one click, rather than fill out the city's long form.

The number of complaints about jet noise rose 1,290 percent from August 2014 to August 2015.

The total number of complaints from city and suburban addresses rose approximately 10 percent from July to August to 420,716, according to the commission. That is the second-highest number of complaints in 2015, according to the data.

Approximately 41 percent percent of complaints from both the city and the suburbs were made from 13 addresses, according to the commission.

Complaints can be made by calling a 24-hour hotline — 800-435-9569 — or submitting an online form.

In Chicago, residents of the 41st Ward, which includes Norwood Park, Edgebrook and Edison Park, filed 30 percent more complaints in August than in July, according to the commission.

In October 2013, a new east-west runway opened as part of the $8.7 billion O'Hare Modernization Program, sending hundreds of flights over areas of the Northwest Side like North Park, Jefferson Park Edgebrook, Edison Park and Norwood Park that previously heard little or no jet noise in previous years.

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

Officials closed the diagonal runway on the east side of O'Hare in August, despite objections from residents who said it is the only way to reduce jet noise over the Northwest Side.

While the Fair Allocation in Runways coalition sees the diagonal runways as the last, best chance to reduce the roar of jets over the Northwest Side, city officials contend the runways — built in the 1950s — are "fatally flawed" and pose a safety threat to airline passengers.

While rejecting demands to keep the diagonal runways in service, Aviation Commissioner Ginger Evans has proposed to rotate the runways that are used at night in an effort to spread out the noise that many residents say keeps them from getting a good night's sleep.

The next east-west runway is expected to open Oct. 15, officials said.

The diagonal runway on the west side of the airport is scheduled to be closed in 2019.

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