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Jet Noise Complaints Soar Above 1 Million For 2016

By Heather Cherone | October 7, 2016 2:53pm | Updated on October 10, 2016 7:19am
 An advocacy group acknowledged little action has been taken on local jet noise complaints.
An advocacy group acknowledged little action has been taken on local jet noise complaints.
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Flickr/ Jim Wissemes

O'HARE — Complaints about jet noise from Chicagoans rose 5 percent in the first eight months of 2016, as Northwest Side residents continued to object to the noise they say rattles their homes' windows and makes it impossible to enjoy their yards.

From January through August, Chicagoans logged approximately 1.1 million objections to the racket made by planes taking off or landing at O'Hare Airport, compared with nearly 1 million complaints during the same period a year ago, according to data released Friday by the O'Hare Noise Compatibility Commission.

In July, 130,139 complaints were filed by Chicago residents with city officials, the records show. Approximately 43 percent of those complaints came from six addresses, according to the commission.

That is down 3.8 percent from July, when Chicagoans filed 135,310 complaints, according to the commission.

For the second month in a row, 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.

Aviation Commissioner Ginger Evans said balance was made possible by the opening of a new runway one year ago this week on the south side of the airport at Berteau Avenue — and calm weather.

"This is a very significant achievement," Evans said. "It is a significant benefit to the residents who suffered before it opened."

The number of complaints from Chicagoans who filed at least one complaint dropped 14 percent from July to August, according to the commission.

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 filling out the city's long form.

The total number of complaints from city and suburban addresses dropped 1.8 percent from July to August. However, 20 percent more complaints were filed in August 2015 than in August 2016, 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 1.2 percent more complaints in August than in July, 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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