Durbin, Oberweis interested in finding O'Hare noise solutions
It's on their radar, but Illinois' candidates for U.S. senator had no immediate solution for Chicago and suburban voters fed up with earsplitting aircraft noise.
State Sen. Jim Oberweis, a Sugar Grove Republican, is challenging incumbent Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin in the Nov. 4 election.
The two will meet tonight in a debate that could touch on any number of issues. It will air at 10:35 p.m. on ABC Channel 7 and can viewed live online at 7 p.m. on abc7chicago.com/.
New and sometimes unpredictable noise patterns from O'Hare International Airport have caused seismic increases in complaints from residents since a new runway opened a year ago.
Noise complaints to the Chicago Department of Aviation jumped from 2,296 in August 2013 to 30,249 this August, according to the most recent data. It was a spike from July 2014, when 27,956 calls were placed.
In hard-hit areas such as Bensenville, complaint totals for August were 4,145 compared to four a year ago.
Durbin called U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and requested he meet with homeowners after getting an earful from jets while visiting a neighborhood close to O'Hare recently.
"It was pretty darn loud," Durbin said in an interview with the Daily Herald editorial board. "I brought it up to him. I think he's open to it. We need to sit down with these people."
Both Durbin and Oberweis said they were interested in possible solutions, such as a more gradual glide slope for airplanes.
Oberweis, chairman of Oberweis Dairy and a pilot, also said "there are new technologies to reduce noise from planes coming in. It's a cost, it's not free, but it can be done and can significantly reduce the noise."
Some residents and municipalities want the DOT to redo an environmental-impact statement that is essentially a blueprint for O'Hare modernization. It lays out the shift to an east/west flight flow pattern that is causing a din in areas where jets haven't historically been a problem.
Reopening the environmental impact statement "may be problematic ... but let's not rule out anything at this point," Durbin said. "Let's have a public meeting."
Other options could be directing flights over nonresidential areas, the candidates said.
Directing flights over commercial corridors instead of private homes is a solution, Oberweis said, but "that's a long-term thing and doesn't help the people who live there right now."
U.S. Senate debate tonightU.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, a Democrat, meets Republican state Sen. Jim Oberweis on ABC Channel 7 Wednesday in a debate.
• The event will be streamed live at 7 p.m. from abc7chicago.com/.
• Viewers can also see the forum on ABC's digital channel 7.2 at 7 p.m.
• The debate will air on Channel 7 at 10:35 p.m.