Gov. Bruce Rauner on Thursday signed into law a measure that could offer some relief for noise-weary residents near O’Hare International Airport.
The law increases the number of runways allowed at the airport, which means two diagonal runways now slated for closure could possibly stay online.
Community advocates are pushing for those runways to stay open to help relieve the amount of air traffic noise in residential areas.
But it’s up to the Chicago Department of Aviation, and officials aren’t saying if they’ll keep those runways open.
“The signing of this legislation has no short-term impact on any CDA plans. We will be reviewing the legislation, working with the FAA and our airport partners,” aviation spokesman Owen Kilmer said in a statement.
He said aviation officials plan to discuss the matter with residents at a meeting scheduled for Friday.
But the governor’s support is considered a “huge win” for those seeking less aviation noise in their Northwest Side neighborhoods. Keeping open the diagonal runways, advocates say, allows airplane noise to be more evenly distributed.
The new law would allow the airport to keep its existing runways, including the diagonal runways, while also adding more. The diagonal runways are set to be decommissioned Aug. 20 as a new runway comes online in October.
“Governor Rauner understands that maintaining the diagonal runways open offers the best options for future solutions to provide relief for people impacted by O’Hare [noise],” said Jac Charlier, a founder of Fair Allocation in Runways Coalition, which has been advocating on behalf of residents in the area.
Sen. John Mulroe, D-Chicago, who introduced the measure that increases the number of runways at O’Hare from eight to 10, said Thursday “we want [the diagonal runways] to remain intact as an option.”
Advocates hope Rauner’s support of the measure meansMayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration will consider keeping the diagonal runways open.
The law “removes the legal pressure to take down a runway,” Charlier said.
Mulroe said the new law also means more residents will become eligible for soundproofing for their homes, paid for by the airlines.
The law becomes effective Jan. 1.