Suburban O'Hare Commission hires consultants to help battle airport noise

Updated 2/27/2015 8:35 AM

A group of towns near O'Hare International Airport has hired two consulting firms to assist it in its battle against airport noise.

The Suburban O'Hare Commission on Thursday announced the hiring of aviation experts who will provide the group technical data and help lobbying federal, state and Chicago officials in hopes of reducing airport noise.


The commission agreed this week to hire Bethesda, Maryland-based JDA Aviation Technology Solutions, which will explore the impact of noise on houses, validate noise contours, and identify operational changes that can be made to O'Hare, according to a news release.

The firm is led by Joe Del Balzo, a one-time acting administrator and deputy administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, and includes noise experts and former air traffic controllers.

The commission has also hired Lockridge Grindal Nauen, a Washington, D.C., and Minneapolis law firm that will create an advocacy plan before officials begin lobbying Congress, the FAA and Chicago Department of Aviation. The firm is also expected to provide advice on noise program best practices implemented at other airports, and identify possible changes to flight operations and noise exposure, officials said.

"Ultimately, we understand that O'Hare airport provides many benefits; however, we need O'Hare airport to be a good neighbor," said Commission Chairman Craig Johnson, the mayor of Elk Grove Village, who spent many years fighting airport expansion he feared would impinge on the village's industrial park. "Our goal is to work together to achieve quieter skies for residents surrounding O'Hare."

Johnson said the commission has $190,000 left from a sound mitigation grant it received a decade ago that would pay most of the costs of the two consultants. Elk Grove Village and Bensenville have committed an additional $50,000 each to the commission.

Commission members are Elk Grove Village, Bensenville, Wood Dale, Itasca, Elmhurst, Addison, Roselle, Hanover Park, Schiller Park, DuPage County and Elk Grove Township.

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