Durbin, Oberweis interested in finding O'Hare noise solutions

  • Dick Durbin, left, and Jim Oberweis are candidates for U.S. senator.

    Dick Durbin, left, and Jim Oberweis are candidates for U.S. senator.

 
 
Updated 10/22/2014 5:34 AM

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.

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"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."

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