Suburban officials: O'Hare noise monitors not enough
Chicago's move to add eight noise monitors around O'Hare International Airport is proving underwhelming for some officials concerned about the din from airplanes in parts of the city and suburbs.
Adding monitors, which provide information used to make funding decisions about soundproofing, doesn't do enough for hard-hit neighborhoods where noise is "unbearable," Bensenville Village President Frank Soto said Tuesday.
"There is not a level of soundproofing that can compensate these people," he said. "This problem isn't going to go away."
The completion of a new runway in October shifted O'Hare air traffic to an east/west flow instead of multiple directions, which has caused misery for hundreds of suburban and city residents unaccustomed to jets screeching overhead.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced Tuesday that city officials will work with the O'Hare Noise Compatibility Commission to decide where the monitors should be located.
The monitors are designed to track the decibel level and frequency of aircraft arriving and departing. The data is used to decide who qualifies for free soundproofing.
Emanuel in a statement acknowledged some residents in the city and suburbs were being affected by the change in flight patterns, noting "we need to better understand the impact on them."
Officials with the anti-noise advocacy group Fair Allocation in Runways. a coalition of city and suburban members, said the monitors are the "first signal" the mayor is listening.
"This is movement -- due to pressure we've brought -- but we're driving toward a real seat at the table," spokesman Jac Charlier said.
There are 32 working noise monitors across the region now and one that is out of service. Locations include: one in Arlington Heights, one in Bensenville, two in Chicago, two in Des Plaines, four in Elk Grove Village, one in Harwood Heights, three in Mount Prospect, four in Park Ridge and three in Wood Dale.
Noise complaints rose from 1,863 in April 2013, before the new runway opened, to 10,961 in April 2014, according to the latest city data. In Bensenville, complaints shot up from one in April 2013 to 393 a year later. In Itasca, it was 52 in 2013 and 1,672 in 2014. In Chicago, it was 1,196 in 2013 compared to 4,136.
A geographic battle could develop over who gets the new noise monitors. Criteria such as proximity to flight paths and other monitors will be used.
"You can't just put them in Chicago," said former Arlington Heights Mayor Arlene Mulder, a member of the O'Hare Noise Compatibility Commission. "It's really tough (jet noise) when you've never had it before; it's a rude awakening."
To make a noise complaint or learn more about soundproofing go to www.flychicago.com/ohare/en/AboutUs/NoiseManagement/default.aspx.