City to install new O’Hare noise monitors

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Hoping to temper residents’ anger over noisy new flight patterns at O’Hare Airport, city officials announced Tuesday that they soon plan to install eight additional monitors to track airplane noise. 

“Some of our residents in Chicago and the surrounding communities are affected by changes in flight patterns, and we need to better understand the impact on them,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel was quoted as saying in a news release announcing the plan.  

The Sun-Times has previously reported that noise complaints in neighborhoods and suburbs near the airport have soared since a new runway was opened and flight patterns were shifted. Additionally, critics have blasted the Federal Aviation Administration for holding public input hearings about the proposed shift in areas that officials knew would not be as dramatically affected by the changes, the Sun-Times found.  

The changes, which were made to boost airport’s capacity, also brought the deafening scream of jets to areas of the city that never previously had to contend with that kind of noise, said Manuel Galvan, a spokesman for Ald. Margaret Laurino (39th), whose ward is on the northwest Side.

“It’s one thing to move next to an airport. In this case, the noise came to the people and they are not happy,” said Galvan.

A city spokesman said the new monitors are a preliminary step toward addressing residents’ complaints. They will allow the city to gather noise data that can then be forwarded on to the FAA. Just where the monitors will be placed and when they will be installed has yet to be determined, the spokesman said.

Once the new monitors are installed, the Chicago Department of Aviation will have 41 monitors in place around O’Hare.

What remains to be seen is exactly what sort of remedy will come about from the data, said Galvan. He said the alderman hopes flight patterns ultimately will be adjusted. At the least, data showing increased noise will help residents qualify for free soundproofing. 

He added that this is not a case of “people who move next to Rush Street and complain about the noise.”

“These people lived in a nice quite area and now they got planes flying over,” Galvan said.

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