POWR sponsored its first community forum on Saturday, April 25, at the Northtown Library. The issue was airplane noise and pollution created by the recent changes in air traffic patterns at O’Hare Airport. Most of the jet noise experienced by West Ridge residents comes from air traffic to east-west runways via Pratt, Thorndale, Lawrence, and Wilson. Cargo jets are especially loud during the overnight hours.

Linda Waltz and Jac Charlier of FAIR (Fair Allocation in Runways) discussed the increase in airplane noise over north and northwest side neighborhoods with a small group of residents. They provided an overview of the changes at O’Hare, including the closing of diagonal runways and the runway expansion that will increase the noise in the near future. A new runway is scheduled to open in October that will direct air traffic parallel to the area between Berteau and Montrose Avenues.

FAIR has launched its “Save the Diagonals” campaign in an effort to prevent the August closing of one diagonal runway. Two bills have passed the Illinois Senate and are pending in the Illinois House. SB 636 and SB 637 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.

Linda and Jac also discussed the “massaging” of data from noise monitors; FAIR has conducted an investigation that reveals that the Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) routinely removes data, a development discovered when FAIR’s app for reporting airplane noise revealed numbers that differed from data delivered by the CDA.

To download the app, or to join FAIR and learn what you can do to support the Save the Diagonals campaign and ensure passage of SB636 and SB637, visit FAIR’s Web site here.

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