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The opening of O’Hare International Airport’s newest runway has sent complaints soaring from areas that aren’t used to high levels of jet noise. | File photo

Newest O’Hare runway brings jet noise to unfamiliar areas

SHARE Newest O’Hare runway brings jet noise to unfamiliar areas
SHARE Newest O’Hare runway brings jet noise to unfamiliar areas

O’Hare International Airport’s newest, southernmost runway saw its most activity to date in April, sending jet noise complaints soaring from areas in Bloomingdale and Wood Dale not used to such racket, new data showed Friday.

In fact, heavier use of O’Hare’s newest runway may have helped push O’Hare jet noise beefs to a record-high for April, when more than 459,000 such complaints were filed. Nearly 74,400 households registered those complaints.

Although O’Hare’s southernmost runway, known as 10R/28L, opened last Oct. 15 at a cost of $516 million, it has not seen a lot of regular action since, due to wind direction and other factors.

But after a winter during which winds were mostly from the west, winds in April switched to being heavily from the east. That kicked O’Hare’s newest runway into more frequent action, as it is used largely for arriving flights in such winds.

After seeing as few as 11 daytime flights, on average, a day since its debut, the new runway absorbed an average of 92 arrivals a day between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. over the month of April, data shared with the O’Hare Noise Compatibility Commission showed Friday.

As a result, parts of Bloomingdale and Wood Dale on the new runway’s approach path west of O’Hare heard a level of jet noise they had probably not experienced before, one consultant told the noise commission.

Wood Dale Mayor Nuncio Pulice said Friday he lives parallel to the new runway and residents even visited his house to complain.

“I had one guy drive by my house; he was looking for me,” Pulice said. “He pulled me over. I was in the front yard. He said, ‘These planes are crazy.’”

Wood Dale has been hard hit by O’Hare’s ongoing $8.7 billion airfield overhaul, which aims to replace criss-crossing diagonal runways with more east-west parallel ones through 2021.

Some of Wood Dale’s residents experience even more flights from other parallel runways since O’Hare dramatically changed its flight paths in October 2013 as part of its overhaul. But with the opening of the southernmost runway, “a whole new group of people are affected,” Pulice said.

Statistics released Friday tended to reflect that. The number of Wood Dale households with O’Hare jet noise beefs jumped from 620 in April of 2015, when the new runway didn’t exist, to nearly 6,900 this past April. Those households registered more than 43,000 complaints in April, up from just over 33,000 a year earlier.

Along the same flight path but even farther west, in Bloomingdale the number of jet noise complaints jumped almost fivefold, to more than 2,500. However, households registering those complaints were still relatively small, increasing from 14 to 31 between April of 2015 and April of 2016.

Bloomingdale officials say they’ve seen a strong uptick in calls to the village office about jet noise, but some of the angriest callers have refused to phone O’Hare’s noise hotline at 1-800-435-9569 or to register an online complaint with the city or with the citizen website chicagonoisecomplaint.com, which forwards beefs to the city’s official talliers.

“Those individuals didn’t feel it was their role to call in,” said Bloomingdale village administrator Peter Scalera. “They said it was our role to call.”

Heavier traffic on O’Hare’s new, southernmost runway apparently triggered an uptick in jet noise complaints as far west as Bloomingdale, as indicated on this map. Source: Chicago Department of Aviation, April 2016 Airport Noise Management System report.<b

Heavier traffic on O’Hare’s new, southernmost runway apparently triggered an uptick in jet noise complaints as far west as Bloomingdale, as indicated on this map. Source: Chicago Department of Aviation, April 2016 Airport Noise Management System report.

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