The much ballyhooed expansion of O’Hare International Airport in Chicago was to radically improve the airport’s on-time performance. But now, even half-way into it and with billions of dollars spent, it is named by Hopper.com as the worst airport in America for winter travel.
That might not come as a surprise to Chicagoans, familiar as we are with horrible winter weather. But nearly everyone–politicians, business leaders, civic groups, organized labor and newspaper editorial boards–all said that the
$6 billion , no, I mean the $ 10 billion, no, the $20 billion (oh hell, whatever the city’s latest foggy figure is) was the best solution to the Chicago region’s aviation problems–namely the need for more capacity and a lot fewer delays.
Somehow, however, the Chicago Aviation Department, long headed by the inept and soon to depart Rosemarie S. Andolino, is unable to cope with the regular arrival of winter. But the bigger reason for disappointment is that we were sold a bunch of hooey about how the reconfiguration of the runways would cut deeply into the always present delay problem. Not so, obviously. One reason that planes aren’t getting to the gates on time is that the expansion has created more active runway crossings for planes trying to work their way through the maze of taxiways on their way to the terminals.
Add this to the growing uproar over the increasing noise pollution that nearby residents, schools, churches and businesses are experiencing and you’ve got another O’Hare promise broken. Chicago and the (bought) regulatory agencies said, in effect, “No problem; there’ll be plenty of money for those inside the noise ‘footprint.'” Tell that to the Northwest Side and northwest suburban communities no finding that the noise levels have become intolerable.
And don’t expect any improvement soon. As the O’Hare Noise Compatibility Commission itself said:
A significant shift in aircraft noise occurred when the airport moved to an east/west flow parallel runway configuration in October 2013 with the commissioning of Runway 10C/28C. A new southern Runway 10R/28L will be commissioned in October 2015.
(Please don’t post the usual ignorant response that if “they don’t like the noise, they shouldn’t have moved next to an airport.” Those communities were there long before the airport arrived (Bensenville was there more than 100 years ago). And many now complaining were there before the O’Hare Airport expansion. Expansion opponents warned that precisely this would happen, but eventually Chicago bought off–err excuse me–persuaded everyone to drop their opposition.)
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