NILES, Ill. -- Jet noise and air pollution are at the center of FAA-sponsored public input meetings this week.
The government agency 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, the gist of which is the city's plan 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.
Keeping all four diagonals is not an option, because 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 FAA has said the presentations that it and the city will make to the public at the four meetings will be 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.