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Bill Halting O'Hare Expansion Gets City Council Hearing Thursday

 A jet lands at O'Hare Airport in this file photo.
A jet lands at O'Hare Airport in this file photo.
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Getty Images/ File Photo

O'HARE — A measure that would halt the expansion of O'Hare Airport is set to be considered Thursday by the Chicago City Council Aviation Committee, Ald. Anthony Napolitano (41st) said.

Northwest Side residents angry about jet noise should attend the session set to begin 10 a.m. Thursday at City Hall in room 201A, Napolitano said.

If approved by the committee, the full City Council could consider the measure to reopen the diagonal runway at O'Hare closed last year at its next meeting scheduled for March 16.

The measure echoes demands made by members of the Fair Allocation in Runways Coalition, who want city officials to reopen the diagonal runway on the east side of the airport, arguing it is the only way to reduce jet noise over the Northwest Side.

But city officials contend the diagonal runways — built in the 1950s — are "fatally flawed" and pose a safety threat to airline passengers.

Napolitano said the expansion of the airport should be halted because of the "overwhelming noise crisis" created by the $8.7 billion O'Hare Modernization Program, which has sent 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 before an east-west runway opened in October 2013.

The diagonal runway on the east side of the airport was closed in August, and the one on the west side of the airport is scheduled to be closed in 2019 before the final east-west runway is built.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel has been a steadfast supporter of the airport expansion, which he has repeatedly said is needed to ensure that Chicago continues to attract the business travelers and vacationers — along with their fat wallets — that drive the city's economy.

After Napolitano introduced his ordinance, Emanuel announced a deal to build a sixth east-west runway at O'Hare and complete the expansion of the airfield.

After city officials rejected pleas to keep the diagonal runways open in July, they announced the airport would rotate the runways weekly 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.

A plan to implement that rotation is expected to be approved Friday the O'Hare Noise Compatibility Commission.

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