The Chicago Sun-Times reports that the increased airplane noise over North side neighborhoods is worse than first feared. According to the paper, most complaints (95%) about the noise are coming from people who live outside the area (the “noise contour”) that would make them eligible for free home insulation. The City of Chicago previously announced that $120M would be set aside by the City to insulate homes affected by the City’s decision to close one runway and by O’Hare’s runway expansion program.
But the noise is doing much more than simply keeping residents awake all night. Quoting medical experts from both Harvard University and Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, the paper reports that serous health issues arise from such sleep deprivation, including high blood pressure, heart trouble, and even early death.
POWR sponsored a discussion last month with Linda Waltz and Jac Charlier of FAIR (Fair Allocation in Runways) that addressed these issues. FAIR is a coalition of individuals and community groups that have organized to stop the increase in flights over the city and the resultant noise. [POWR recently joined the coalition.]
Thanks to FAIR’s efforts, two bills (SB636 and SB637) are pending before the Transportation Committee of the Illinois House; they would permit as many as ten operational runways at O’Hare (the city is currently legally limited to eight) and would prohibit demolition of the diagonal runways. It is urgent that these bills be voted out of committee by Friday, May 8. Read about these bills and what you can do to help secure passage here.
Copies of the handouts distributed at the April meeting can be accessed below. The Sun-Times story can be found here.