Group seek change in new O’hare flight plans
by BRIAN NADIG
A coalition of community groups is seeking changes to the O’Hare Modernization Project, which is expected to increase the number of daily nighttime flights over the Northwest Side from about 15 to 90 in October.
The group called FAIR, which stands for Fair Allocation in Runways, was formed by members of the Forest Glen Community Club, the Edgebrook Community Association, the Hollywood-North Park Community Association, the Sauganash Community Association, the Sauganash Park Community Association and the Sauganash Woods Homeowners Association.
The group has met with U.S. Representative Mike Quigley (D-5), in whose district O’Hare Airport is located, and it is planning to meet with U.S. Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-9), coalition facilitator Jac Charlier said.
The coalition has released the following policy statement: “The OMP will drastically increase air traffic over both northwest Chicago and the near northwest suburbs by shifting current airplane traffic, now arriving from many directions, into landing and take-offs from only two directions, east and west, directly over the Northwest Side of Chicago and near northwest suburbs.
“In addition, the project intends to shift 85 percent of all nighttime landings to routes directly over the Northwest Side. This massive shift in airplane traffic puts the burden of noise, fuel, air and visual pollution almost solely on the residents and businesses of the Northwest Side of Chicago and the near northwest suburbs.
“Nearly all of these communities predate O’Hare’s conversion to a commercial airport in the ‘50s, and this shift is neither necessary nor desirable.”
Under the modernization plan, the main runways will be 9R/27L, which lines up with Thorndale Avenue, 10L/28R, which lines up Lawrence Avenue, and 28C/10C, which lines up Wilson Avenue, according to the coalition.
The coalition is asking the Federal Aviation Administration to work with neighborhood groups and businesses to design a new landing and take-off plan that will ensure that some communities are not unduly burdened.
The coalition recommends that the all existing and new runways be utilized and that the optional “fly quiet” program becomes mandatory policy for O’Hare. Under the program, pilots and air traffic controllers are encouraged to use runways that take nighttime flights over less populated areas such as forest preserves.
The coalition also is asking that noise abatement programs be expanded to communities such Edgebrook and Indian Woods where home owners are not eligible to apply for subsidies because air traffic noise levels currently do not meet federal criteria.
The group also wants the plan’s environmental impact study updated. The coalition has said that the recent loss of many ash trees which mitigate noise and air pollution should be taken into consideration.
Forest Glen Community Club president Robert Murphy said that he is aware that some city officials have expressed doubt that the runway plan can be changed, the coalition feels that public pressure will eventually win out. Murphy said that about 500 people have signed the coalition’s petition, which is posted online at www.change.org.
Charlier said that many home owners are only beginning to realize the effect that the runway plan will have on their quality of life and that several more neighborhood associations will join the coalition.