When a new runway opened on November 20 at O'Hare International Airport, it was intended to be used for small- to medium-sized aircraft arrivals and would handle roughly 20 flights per hour.
However, according to the Chicago Tribune, the extra runway has been handling up to 350 flights daily, delivering a substantial increase in noise to Niles, Park Ridge, Des Plaines, and other communities. This is a stark contrast to the city's 2005 announcement that the new runway would not reach this level of activity until the entire O'Hare expansion was completed.
"We are surprised by the level of usage at this point, and we have questions for the FAA and the city," said Brian Gilligan, executive director of the O'Hare Noise Compatibility Commission. "We have not received a response yet."
While planes had flown over these neighborhoods before, it was at a much higher altitude. Now, they are flying much lower (and consequently louder) over homes and businesses.
"The shift in traffic is having a dramatic effect on the quality of life for the citizens of Park Ridge. Homes in the northern end of the city are likely to experience less aircraft noise, but homes in the 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th wards will definitely experience more," said Park Ridge 3rd Ward Alderman Don Bach, the Norridge and Harwood Heights News reports.
FAA officials are consulting with airline representatives to discuss the noise issues.
"It has been two weeks, and we are working through the bugs of adding a new runway," said Mary Frances Fagan, spokeswoman for American Airlines at O'Hare.
The public will sound off at the next Commission meeting at Rosewood Banquets, 9421 W Higgins Rd, in Rosemont, at 8 a.m. Friday.