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O'Hare Expansion Plans Need to Contract on the Noise Effects

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Many times, people don't think about the airport unless they have to catch a flight. But for many residents, including those of Addison, Bensenville, DuPage County, Elk Grove Village, Hanover Park, Itasca, Roselle and Wood Dale (all neighborhoods that the noise watchdog Suburban O'Hare Commission are from), the O'Hare International Airport will come to you. At least the noise from the jets will, unfortunately, if the commission is right. They're predicting that roars from night flights will affect thousands more people than originally expected.

The Suburban O'Hare Commission calculates that number to be 45,000 more people, to be exact, rather than the 25,000 originally projected will be affected by nighttime airplane noise when airport modernization is complete by 2021. How'd that happen? FAA miscalculated in setting the proper decibel level that defines significant noise, so 84 percent fewer people were included in the noise contour map — 24,694 individuals instead of 45,449. Whoops.

And compounding this, there will be more flights after sunset; 10.5 percent in the next six years instead of 5.6 percent.

It's already a bit of an issue. The Tribune reports that almost 3 million noise complaints have been filed with a city-run hot line and website through September. The number of complaints have soared from about 268,000 in 2014, and about 29,000 in 2013. This is quite an unpleasant trajectory.

As a result, they want tougher overnight flying restrictions. A report commissioned by the Suburban O'Hare Commission wants a more aggressive Fly Quiet program.

What can be done when all that's wanted is quiet? A few things, apparently. Among the recommendations is to use three runways, including a diagonal one, to more evenly distribute jet noise from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. O'Hare officials plan to demolish two of the airport's four diagonals. And also to encourage airlines to use newer planes over older, louder plans at night.

Chicago Aviation Commissioner Ginger Evans said that the city will seek to change in federal regulations, so that government funds could replace or supplement soundproofing on about 200 previously insulated homes closest to the airfield.

·Report warns of more O'Hare jet noise at night [Chicago Herald]
·O'Hare Noise [Chicago Tribune]
·O'Hare Noise Project