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O’Hare jet noise complaints pass 2 million mark for year

O’Hare International Airport has drawn more than 2 million jet noise complaints so far this year as the number of people making their grievances continues to rise, new city data indicated Friday.

The 2.15 million complaints to city officials from January through July towered over the 268,000 filed in all of 2014, data presented to the O’Hare Noise Compatibility Commission showed.

The number of people registering those complaints rose 5 percent from the previous month, to 44,502, and was up more than 1,500 percent from July of 2014. That continues the upward surge that followed O’Hare’s October 2013 switch in flight paths.

Recent increases have been fueled by the February debut of the user-friendly citizen website chicagonoisecomplaint.com. It allows residents to file complaints about multiple planes over hour-long time frames in one website visit then forwards those to the city’s official site.

Close to half of all July complainants lived in Chicago, where some residents say they’ve been bombarded by noise from arriving flights that now fly over the city to enter O’Hare.

Complains recently have soared from as far as St. Charles, nearly 35 miles from O’Hare, city consultants told the noise commission Friday. There, nearly 540 people lodged more than 600 complaints in July.

Also Friday, city aviation officials explained that O’Hare’s major overnight arrival runway has been undergoing construction since at least mid-July and will see “significant closures” overnight for major repaving this month through Thanksgiving.

As a result, runways that run parallel to Lawrence and Wilson Avenues likely will be absorbing some of the night arrivals that used to hit runway 27L, which runs parallel to Thorndale Avenue.

Schiller Park Mayor Barbara Piltaver, a noise commission member, called the news “distressing.” For her constituents, traffic from the Lawrence Avenue runway is “insane,” without the added night traffic, Piltaver said. “The people here cannot take it any more.”

Officials clarified that the work won’t last the whole night, nor will it occur every night.