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O'Hare Neighbors Lodged Almost A Million Noise Complaints This Year

By Heather Cherone | September 9, 2016 11:26am | Updated on September 12, 2016 8:09am
 A plane soars over the Northwest Side, where noise complaints were up this weekend.
A plane 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 14 percent in the first seven months of 2016, as Northwest Side residents continued to object to the noise they say keeps them up at night and makes it impossible to enjoy their yards.

From January through July, Chicagoans logged approximately 927,000 objections to complaints about the racket made by planes taking off or landing at O'Hare Airport, compared with approximately 812,000 during the same period a year ago, according to data released Friday by the O'Hare Noise Compatibility Commission.

In July, 135,310 complaints were filed by Chicago residents with city officials, the records show. Approximately 40 percent of those complaints came from six addresses, according to the commission.

That is down significantly from January, when Chicagoans filed 176,079 complaints, the most of any month this year, according to the commission. May saw the fewest number of complaints from city residents, with 101,300 filed.

For the first time, a roughly equal number of planes took off and landed from the east and the west, a long-held goal of city aviation officials that they say will help spread out the noise.

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

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 upset residents to log their anger with one click, rather than fill out the city's long form.

The number of complaints from Chicagoans who filed at least one complaint rose 8 percent from May to July, according to the commission.

The total number of complaints from city and suburban addresses rose 23 percent from May to July, according to the commission.

Approximately 55 percent of complaints from both the city and the suburbs in July were made from 22 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 57 percent more complaints in June than they did in May, according to the commission.

In 2013 and 2015, two east-west runways 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.

A sixth and final east-west runway is set to open in 2020.

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