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O'Hare Noise Complaints Increase In September Despite Fewer Flights

By Alex Nitkin | November 4, 2016 1:02pm | Updated on November 7, 2016 8:33am
 The 41st Ward saw the largest surge in complaints, from nearly 72,000 to more than 85,000.
The 41st Ward saw the largest surge in complaints, from nearly 72,000 to more than 85,000.
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O'HARE — Chicagoans lodged slightly more jet noise complaints about O'Hare International Airport in September than they did the previous month, despite a decreased total number of flights coming in and out of the airport, officials said Friday.

The O'Hare Noise Compatibility Commission fielded 131,766 total complaints from city residents about low-flying planes rattling their homes, about a thousand more than in August.

Chicagoans have now lodged more than 1.2 million complaints in 2016, continuing to outpace last year, according to data released by the commission. Factoring in surrounding suburbs, the total number of objections nearly hit 3.5 million for the year.

Still, a heavy plurality of the complaints have been traced back to "a handful of addresses," aviation planner Jeffrey Jackson said at a Friday meeting.

About 5,000 fewer flights departed or arrived at O'Hare in September than August, registering about a 6 percent decrease, officials said.

The largest month-to-month surge in complaints came from the 41st Ward, which includes Norwood Park, Edgebrook and Edison Park, rocketing from 71,987 in August to 85,128 in September.

Meanwhile, complaints dropped by nearly half during that time in the 39th ward, which includes parts of Edgebrook, Old Irving Park and Albany Park.

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. But 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 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.

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

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