Since O’Hare became part of the 5th Congressional District in January 2013, my staff and I have become immersed in the issues surrounding the O’Hare Modernization Program (OMP). We have met repeatedly with residents and neighborhood groups to hear their concerns and convey those concerns to project officials and the airlines. But there’s more we need to do.
The unprecedented noise pollution facing our local communities is a serious problem that warrants urgent action. The Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) failure to hold public hearings in areas most affected by OMP and the Agency’s lack of candor with residents is disappointing. Constituents were never told in any meaningful way how many additional flights—and how much more noise—they would be asked to endure once these changes took effect.
Additionally, The FAA’s refusal to pursue a new Environmental Impact Study (EIS) that focuses on the new noise patterns is of serious concern. I believe any FAA re-evaluation is meaningless if it does not consider the actual increased noise level data. In the ten years since the original EIS, significant changes to the implementation of the OMP underscore the necessity for a new assessment. I will continue to urge the FAA to conduct a new EIS, accompanied by a new round of public hearings, affording vigorous citizen input.
We also need to pursue both long and short term solutions to the problems facing residents, which is why I’ve urged the FAA to change the 65 DNL metric and Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) to expand the Fly Quiet program. I am also a founding member of the Quiet Skies Caucus, which is composed of legislators from around the country who aim to raise awareness of aircraft noise and work to find meaningful solutions to the problem.
Our constituents’ quality of life is rapidly deteriorating, and the FAA’s tepid response is troubling. There is more work to be done at all levels, and we will continue to encourage the FAA, CDA and airlines to search for solutions that can provide relief to residents, who are losing both sleep and patience.
A robust O’Hare and a vibrant 5th District need not be mutually exclusive. We will continue to pursue every avenue that reduces noise without compromising safety.
WHAT I’M DOING IN DC AND AROUND THE DISTRICT
New Environmental Impact Study/Public Hearings
- Reps. Schakowsky and Duckworth and I have urged the FAA to conduct a new environmental impact study (EIS) and partner with the Chicago Department of Aviation to hold new public hearings.
- The FAA’s original rounds of public hearings failed to include areas most affected by the OMP. The significant changes in OMP’s implementation since the original EIS—including the issue of converging runways--calls into question the report’s relevance. Constituents deserve a report based on the latest data—not 10-year-old computer models.
Change the 65 DNL
- Reps. Schakowsky and Duckworth and I have urged the FAA through letters and meetings, to revisit the current 65 Day-Night Average Sound Level (DNL) used to measure noise effects on individuals due to aviation activities.
- Current 65 DNL level is outdated and disconnected from the real impact of air traffic noise on people.
- A revised DNL could potentially allow more residents to qualify for the O’Hare Residential Sound Insulation Program (RSIP).
- FAA is currently studying the issue, and I’ve pushed for funds to bring the FAA’s study to a swift conclusion.
Keep all Runways Open
- Flights landing and departing from O’Hare need to be distributed over as many runways as safety permits.
- More runways—including the diagonal runways currently slated for closure--mean more options for moving traffic in and out of O’Hare and dispersing noise.
- Expand the Fly Quiet Program. Federal laws previously passed make it almost impossible to make Fly Quiet mandatory. The claim, however, that Fly Quiet should only be revisited upon completion of the O’Hare Modernization Program in 2020 is unacceptable. I’ve called on CDA to expand O’Hare’s current Fly Quiet Program. Let’s explore every option to bring noise relief to neighborhoods during the overnight hours.
- I’ve been successful in getting a temporary noise monitor installed at North Park Village. But more noise monitors are needed from the CDA in the communities and neighborhoods surrounding O’Hare.
- We welcome Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s promise of additional monitors, but we need to reposition some of the monitors already in service to better capture the impact of the aircraft noise generated by the new flight patterns.
TRACKING NOISE CONCERNS
In order to better represent constituents, I want to track your concerns about O’Hare noise as we work to reduce noise pollution over the 5th Congressional District. Understanding the extent and the magnitude of the problem helps me make a stronger case for noise mitigation in my discussions with the FAA, the City of Chicago and the airlines.
Click here to give us a brief but detailed narrative of the problem. Please select “O’Hare Noise Pollution” from the drop down menu and include the time and date of the disturbance and any other important details. My office will track the grievances you file with us and use the information to target requests to the city for additional noise monitors. We know the air traffic developments of the past few months have presented many residents with new and unexpected challenges. Please know that my staff and I are exploring every reasonable option to make our neighborhoods livable, while keeping O’Hare safe and efficient.
PLEASE NOTE: Writing to us does not replace filing an official noise complaint with the City of Chicago. The City’s Dept. of Aviation maintains the official noise complaint database. Please click here to file an official complaint.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ABOUT OMP AND SOUND INSULATION
To see the City of Chicago’s explanation of OMP, click here.
To read more about the O’Hare Noise Compatibility Commission and its public meetings and sound insulation program, click here.