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O’Hare Noise Public Meetings Planned this Summer As 2 Bills Proposed to Keep Diagonal Runways Open to Alleviate Noise East and West

Tue June 09 2015 7:08 pm
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VIDEO mostly shows aircraft landing on new Runway 28C at O’Hare International Airport on approach over a residential neighborhood just north of Lawrence Avenue and west of River Road on Saturday March 14, 2015.

With heavy and high volume air traffic arriving and departing on new and existing multiple parallel east/west runways, a large number of residents are feeling the stress of new flight patterns.

State Sen. John Mulroe, Senate sponsor of two bills that would preserve the diagonal runways 14L/32R and 14R/32L, and Jac Charlier of the Fair Allocation in Runways Coalition propose that the diagonal runways should be used to spread out O’Hare air traffic more evenly. Keeping the extra diagonal runways — originally planned for elimination in the initial airport expansion project — could offer relief to citizens directly east and west of O’Hare. Those citizens are under the stress of new jet noise that started in 2013 with O’Hare’s switch to the use of mostly parallel east-west runways. Existing state law limits O’Hare to eight runways. Keeping the diagonal runways would mean nine runways would exist at the airport.

The diagonal runways 14L/32R and 14R/32L are in line with several blocks of commercial property — where citizens are already accustomed to daily air traffic — and vacant land just east of a mobile home park.

However, officials had begun dismantling electronic equipment on diagonal runway 14L/32R at O’Hare International Airport in May 2015, even though two pending Illinois bills were prepared seeking to spare the runway from demolition. Runway 14L/32R is scheduled to be decommissioned on August 20, 2015 and to be demolished Spring 2016.

The dismantling of equipment came two days after State Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie (D-Chicago) refused to call the runway bills for a vote in the House Transportation Committee.

Dan Carrico, president of the O’Hare tower unit of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, confirmed in May 2015 that instrument landing system equipment was already being removed from diagonal runway 14L/32R, rendering it largely unusable for arrivals. Departures would still be possible on 14L/32R.

The instrument landing system equipment was transferred to a new runway scheduled to open in October 2015 — Runway 10R/28L, which will be the closest runway to Irving Park Road (Route 19) and will be aligned to the west with homes near Grove Avenue in Bensenville and Fenton High School near Grove Avenue and Route 83.

Runway 10L/28R runs parallel and very close to Runway 10C/28C, which is already open, and already stressing citizens near Lawrence Avenue to the east of the airport and near Route 83 and Hillside Drive, Commercial Street and Stoneham Street to the west of the airport.

State Sen. John Mulroe hoped to get Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan to intervene to stop dismantling of Runway 14L/32R.

By June 1, 2015 the City of Chicago asked the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to delay action that would cause “irreparable damage” to diagonal runways slated for dismantling. The postponement will be in effect at least until the FAA conducts public meetings this summer about noise associated with O’Hare’s ongoing airfield expansion project and after city officials meet with an anti-noise group.

The FAA has agreed to hold four workshop-style public meetings to receive feedback on its draft environmental impact study regarding a new east-west runway (10R/28L), scheduled to open Oct. 15 on O’Hare’s south airfield. The draft study has not yet been released, and no have dates and locations been set for the upcoming public meetings.

Many of the aircraft arriving and departing on the south airfield are large cargo aircraft — including Boeing 747 freighters — because the cargo facilities are located in the south airfield.

Proponents of keeping the diagonal runways say they could be especially useful at night when there is not as much volume of air traffic. Runway 14R/32L reaches very close to the cargo facilities, and many of the overnight flights at 2AM, 3AM and 4AM are cargo flights.

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