- Published: 16 April 2015
SPRINGFIELD – In response to a growing number of complaints and concerns that Chicago O’Hare International Airport’s noise levels have become unbearable for surrounding communities, State Senator John Mulroe (D-Chicago) has introduced two companion proposals intended to address the issue.
“My district is immediately East of O’Hare with Rosemont and Schiller Park situated right next to the airport, but these aren’t the only communities being affected,” Mulroe said. “It’s become clear to us that the noise problem greatly escalated following the completion of the O’Hare Modernization Program.”
The O’Hare Modernization Act was passed in 2000 with the intention of increasing efficiency and safety of the airport by adding multiple parallel runways to accommodate the greater number of East-West travelers. The number of noise complaints in January 2015 was 39,500, whereas the number of complaints the previous January was 1,357 prior to the opening of a new parallel East-West runway.
Under the new proposals, O’Hare would keep the existing runways intact, including the existing diagonal runways, which allowed air traffic to be more evenly distributed. Currently the diagonal runways are only running at roughly 3 percent capacity. The effect of not using these diagonal runways, was to force 97 percent of the air traffic and noise to communities directly east and west of the airport, resulting in the increased number of noise complaints.
“With these two measures, we are trying to reach a compromise,” Mulroe said. “The airport will continue to work toward its goal of higher efficiency and the people in the surrounding communities would regain some of the peace and quiet that attracted them to these communities initially.”
SB636 passed the Senate by a 52 to 0 vote, while SB637 passed the Senate by a 52 to 0 vote. Both measures will continue to be heard by the House.