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O'Hare Noise Complaints Drop 30 Percent in September, Still at Record Highs

By Heather Cherone | November 6, 2015 10:22am | Updated on November 9, 2015 8:32am
 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 dropped 30 percent from August to September, even as a record number of Northwest Side residents continued to bombard city officials with objections to the racket made by planes using the newest east-west runway at O'Hare Airport.

In September, 137,260 complaints were filed by Chicago residents with city officials, according to data released Friday by the O'Hare Noise Compatibility Commission.

Approximately 10 percent of those complaints came from two addresses, commission officials said.

While the total number complaints fell, the number of Chicagoans who complained about jet noise rose 10.5 percent, according to the commission.

Complaints about jet noise typically drop in the fall and the winter as people stay inside to escape inclement weather, according to the commission's data.

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 total number of complaints from the city and surrounding suburbs about jet noise rose 1,100 percent from September 2014 to September 2015.

The total number of complaints from city and suburban addresses dropped 7.6 percent from August to September to 388,767, according to the commission.

Approximately 30 percent percent of complaints from both the city and the suburbs were made from seven 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 32 percent fewer complaints in September than in August, 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.

The newest east-west runway at O'Hare opened Oct. 15. The $516 million runway, on the south side of the airport at Berteau Avenue, will be used mostly for arrivals from the west, at least until 2021 when the airport expansion is expected to be completed.

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