What will Rauner do with O'Hare runway noise legislation?

  • The constant din from planes landing and departing from O'Hare has gotten the attention of lawmakers.

    The constant din from planes landing and departing from O'Hare has gotten the attention of lawmakers. Daily Herald File Photo

Updated 6/1/2015 6:00 PM

Legislation that encourages Chicago to keep all its runways open at O'Hare International Airport and increases the pool of people eligible for soundproofing is headed to Gov. Bruce Rauner's desk.

Whether Rauner signs it will show his hand on a noisy issue that he's been quiet about so far.


"The governor will carefully consider any legislation that crosses his desk," spokeswoman Catherine Kelly said Monday.

The Illinois Senate on Saturday approved a reworked House version of an O'Hare bill senators first passed in April. The policy allows Chicago to keep 10 runways open, which supporters hope would disperse noise more equally around the region by continuing to use existing diagonal ones.

The city's O'Hare modernization plan, approved by the FAA, creates a parallel runway system that's expected to be safer and more efficient. But when the airport shifted to an east/west flight pattern in fall 2013, the subsequent din has made life miserable for neighborhoods and suburbs close to the airport and as far away as St. Charles.

State law allows for just eight runways to be used but the new policy would permit four diagonals and six parallels to operate.

If Rauner signs the bill, it's uncertain whether Chicago will take advantage of the extra runways or stick to a parallel system.

The policy also could increase the number of homes eligible for soundproofing by taking into account noise problems occurring between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. Currently, the focus is on overnight flights between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.

A related bill that would prohibit closing any diagonal runways has languished in committees.

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