It's no surprise that complaints about noise have increased dramatically from people living and working around O'Hare International Airport as a result of its expansion.
Professional aviation experts, including former top Federal Aviation Administration officials hired by airport expansion opponents, had confidently predicted that additional runways, a new runway configuration and increased flights would lead to serious levels of noise, including for people who had experienced little of it before.
City officials tried to tamp down those warnings by this contradictory claim: (a) increased noise wouldn't be a problem and (b) the city would "remediate" the additional noise that they said wouldn't materialize.
The city's response to the increased noise was typically arrogant. It won't do anything. Screw you.
Reported the Tribune's transportation reporter, Jon Hilkevitch reported:
"The Chicago Department of Aviation and its airline partners have made a considerable investment in modernizing O'Hare so that it can better serve the aviation needs of people and businesses,'' Chicago Aviation Commissioner Rosemarie Andolino said in a letter dated Wednesday to Quigley and U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, whose district includes parts of Chicago and some northern suburbs.
"O'Hare handles a considerable amount of traffic between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. that would be negatively impacted by limiting available runways. As a result, the (aviation department) does not support any changes to the hours of the Fly Quiet Program,'' Andolino said.
In the letter, Andolino also ruled out possible changes to flight paths, saying such a move would "simply displace noise impacts from one neighborhood to another.''
Hilkevitch noted that Andolino refused a request to be interviewed for the story. And that definitely is no surprise. Andolino and her former boss who engineered the expansion, Mayor Richard M. Daley, repeatedly showed contempt for anyone opposing the expansion, no matter how well founded their objections were.
Consider the experts' warning that the expansion wouldn't really get you to your gate any quicker. The reason was that new runways would create more (and increasingly hazardous) runway and taxiway crossings. That prediction also has come true, as Hilkevitch describes in this Dec. 22, 2013 article, "New O'Hare runway leads to more landings — and congestion."
So far, the time savings in the air appears to be washed out as planes line up on congested taxiways and travel greater distances to terminals to avoid crossing active runways, according to air traffic data and interviews with airline officials, pilots and controllers.And with winter still ramping up, O'Hare faces its first major test involving strong crosswinds blowing over the new east-west parallel runway configuration. High crosswinds threaten to reduce flight operations or ground planes entirely until gusts subside, leading to delays and cancellations.
Daley, Andolino and the Chicago/state/Democratic/Republic political alliance that columnist John Kass calls the "combine," forced this expansion down the throats of anyone who dared to stand up to this biggest boondoggle in Illinois history. Who should be surprised that this treatment should continue? After the beat-down that was applied to the opponents, their only consolation is the right to say, "We told you so."
(I was able to watch this travesty unfold from the inside as a consultant years ago to the suburban opponents to the expansion.)
See see the noise impact map and runway configuration at noise graphic
For more on O'Hare Airport: A History of Chicago's O'Hare Airport (IL) (The History Press)
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