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House Republican pair makes push for O'Hare noise study

SPRINGFIELD — Two House Republicans introduced legislation Wednesday to launch a study into the noise complaints under newly configured flight patterns at O’Hare International Airport.

Rep. Michael McAuliffe, R-Chicago and Rep. Dennis Reboletti, R-Elmhurst, are pushing for an analysis by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and Illinois Department of Transportation to gauge the environmental and health-related impact caused by the new flight patterns.

“Our goal is to make sure that local residents’ health and well-being are given full consideration, particularly those who now live adjacent to the new flight paths,” said McAuliffe, who represents part of Chicago’s Northwest Side and predicted 16,000 residents could be impacted by the study.

The newly introduced legislation faces long odds since the spring session of the General Assembly is scheduled to conclude May 31.

During the last year, the nation’s second busiest airport switched mostly from using diagonal runways to using parallel, east-to-west runways in order to reduce flight delays, reduce collision risks and increase efficiency. Because of this shift, several areas around the airport have had to adjust to a new and constant flow of deafening air traffic overhead.

“There’s a problem with property values,” said Reboletti, who’s had hundreds of people email him about the declining worth of their homes. “Property values continue to go down. People cannot sell their homes. They’re asking for property tax relief in some way, shape or form.”

The number of airport-related complaints has also taken off: In March, more than 11,000 complaints rolled in—an increase of 9,700 complaints since last March, according to the Chicago Department of Aviation’s monthly report. A note in the report specified that 60 percent of March’s complaints came from 12 addresses.

Reboletti said he hopes the results of the study, which would be reported to the General Assembly by October 31, spur change in the upcoming veto session.

“We understand that O’Hare airport is an economic engine, but at the same time we want to make sure that the public health and well-being of the hundreds of thousands of residents that live in that area are protected,” Reboletti said. “Because we have new runways, we have new flight patterns, we have new people that are experiencing distress that we have not see in the past. We need to make sure we update our models…so that we can actually have the data to make sure that we’re making the appropriate decisions from a legislative side.”