Schedule: FAA to hold public meetings on O’Hare noise, pollution
CHICAGO — Four days of meetings start Monday when the public will be able to testify about jet noise and air pollution related to the expansion of O’Hare International Airport.
The Federal Aviation Administration is conducting the meetings to hear from the public about a draft report that re-evaluates the environmental impact statement that the FAA approved in 2005 for Chicago’s program to reconfigure O’Hare with six parallel east-west runways and two diagonal runways.
The plan eliminates two existing diagonal runways, which anti-noise groups contend should be kept to help spread out jet noise. The first will close Aug. 20, according to the Chicago Department of Aviation, and the second one will close in 2019.
Chicago Aviation Commissioner Ginger Evans has ruled out keeping all four diagonals, saying doing so would hamper the efficiency of the new parallel runway layout, cause safety concerns because aircraft could potentially be converging from different directions and cost too much to maintain extra miles of concrete and navigational equipment.
The anti-noise groups are urging residents to turn out at the meetings to pressure the city and the FAA to change its decisions, operate up to 10 runways at O’Hare and devise new air-traffic procedures that put a priority on reducing the noise impacts on neighborhoods, especially at night and during overnight hours.
But the FAA has said the presentations that it and the city will make to the public at the four meetings will be limited to a re-evaluation of environmental issues because the next two runways set to open — on the far south airfield near Bensenville in October and another runway in 2020 north of the passenger terminals — are not being built in the order originally planned and approved.
A final environmental re-evaluation is scheduled to be released before the next new runway opens Oct. 15, the FAA said.
The public will have an opportunity to provide testimony to a court reporter at the meetings or submit written comments.
Each meeting will be held from 1 to 9 p.m., as follows:
•Monday: White Eagle Banquets, 6839 N. Milwaukee Ave., Niles.
•Tuesday: Taft High School, 6530 W. Bryn Mawr Ave., Chicago.
•Wednesday: Monty’s Elegant Banquets, 703 S. York Road, Bensenville.
•Thursday: Belvedere Events & Banquets, 1170 W. Devon Ave., Elk Grove Village.
The draft report of the re-evaluation is at www.faa.gov/airports/airport_development/omp/eis_re_eval. It is also available at 73 public libraries near O’Hare, the FAA said.
Public comments can be submitted online via the FAA website listed above, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, via fax at 847-294-7046, or comments can be mailed to Amy Hanson, Environmental Protection Specialist, Federal Aviation Administration, Chicago Airports District Office, 2300 E. Devon Ave., Des Plaines, IL 60018.
The comment period closes Aug. 26, the FAA said.
by Jon Hilkevitch, Tribune reporter.