Three Illinois congressmen blast FAA over O’Hare noise decision

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The Federal Aviation Administration’s refusal to re-evaluate O’Hare International Airport’s jet noise levels — following a recent spike in complaints from area residents — has prompted an angry response from three members of the Illinois congressional delegation.

“The unprecedented noise pollution facing our local communities is a serious problem that warrants urgent action,” reads a joint statement released Thursday by U.S. Reps. Mike Quigley, Tammy Duckworth and Jan Schakowsky. “The FAA’s refusal to immediately complete a thorough (environmental impact study) is extremely disappointing, and any FAA re-evaluation is meaningless if it does not consider increased noise level data. Our constituents’ quality of life is rapidly deteriorating, and the FAA’s response is unacceptable. There is more work to be done at all levels, and we will continue to push the FAA towards meaningful solutions that can provide relief to residents who are losing both sleep and patience.”

In October, O’Hare switched from using crisscrossing runways to using parallel ones that send the vast majority of air traffic over areas directly east and west of the nation’s second-busiest airport.

Since the switch, complaints about jet noise have soared. Chicago complaints alone totaled more than 12,200 in July, up from nearly 1,200 a month before the big flight path switch, the Chicago Sun-Times reported earlier this month.

In June of this year, the congressional delegation made the request to the FAA for the impact study, but the request apparently fell on deaf ears.

In a response letter dated Sept. 5, FAA Administrator Michael P. Huerta wrote that his agency did “one of the most comprehensive environmental analyses we have ever conducted,” prior to starting the new flight paths.

“While we acknowledge that noise impacts cannot be completely eliminated, the FAA has provided federal funding to support robust residential and school sound insulation efforts to minimize those impacts,” Huerta wrote.

An FAA spokeman declined to comment further on Thursday.

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