Frustrations over jet noise expressed at Gladstone Park workshop




by BRIAN NADIG

Frustration about the increase in jet noise was apparent among the 35 people who attended a March 1 workshop on issue, according to Fair Allocation In Runways Coalition member John Kane.

“Most of people were miserable, looking at the faces, and no one is there to listen to them except FAIR,” Kane said. The 5,000-member coalition is working to reduce jet noise.

The workshop, which was held at Hitch School, was sponsored by the Gladstone Park Chamber of Commerce and the Gladstone Park Neighborhood Association.

Kane lived in Portage Park for 13 years, and he said he “loved the Northwest Side dearly,” but after a new runway which is aligned with Wilson Avenue opened at O’Hare International Airport in 2013, it became increasingly difficult for him to work at home and for his family to enjoy their yard due to the planes.

“They were bigger than before and lower than before,” Kane said of the increase in air traffic.

Kane said that in September of 2014 he and his family moved to West Rogers Park and that while his new neighborhood is quieter than Portage Park, he still finds it difficult to enjoy his back yard on most days due to jet noise. “It’s not just a Northwest Side problem,” he said. “It’s also a North Side problem.”

Under the O’Hare Modernization Plan, additional east-west runways are being built, with plans to keep two of the four existing diagonal runways, in an effort to increase the airport’s efficiency and capacity. City officials recently announced plans to construct a sixth east-west runway which will be aligned with Granville Avenue and Devon Avenue.

Kane said that the city wants to increase the number of cargo planes using O’Hare, taking business away from nearby regional airports. “The goal is to suck traffic away and turn this into the Walmart of airports,” he said.

The modernization project also is intended to create longer runways that can accommodate the “massive planes” which typically fly between the United States and places such as Hong King and Saudi Arabia, Kane said. About 15 percent of the city’s revenue is generated from O’Hare, including landing fees, he said.

The coalition opposes construction of the sixth east-west runway, and it is urging that the city keep all four diagonal runways so that air traffic can be spread out over a wider area.

Kane said that one of the goals of the coalition is to block federal funding of the new runway because it would have a devastating effect on the Northwest Side, especially parts of Gladstone Park, because the planes would fly between Granville and Devon and then shift further south as they get closer to O’Hare.

The city’s goal is to keep two of the diagonal runways and to use them sparingly, mainly during severe weather, Kane said. He said that one of the diagonal runways has been decommissioned and that there are reports that the city could start removing it as early April.

More information about the coalition is available at www.fairchicago.org.

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