CHICAGO (CBS) — In light of a report that the FAA originally released inaccurate information about how new flight paths at O’Hare International Airport would affect people who live nearby, critics of the airport expansion project are demanding new public hearings on airport noise.
WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports the Federal Aviation Administration’s original figures regarding changes in runway traffic at O’Hare might explain the low turnout at public hearings on the O’Hare Modernization Project, an $8 billion plan to expand and reconfigure the airfield.
The Sun-Times reports the original figures about plane traffic were quietly revised upward by the FAA after the public hearings were held. In some cases, the new figures showed double, triple, and even quadruple the percentage of flights that would fly over nearby suburbs and Chicago neighborhoods by the time the project is done.
Park Ridge resident Gene Spanos, founder of the anti-airplane noise group Citizens Against Plane Pollution, said there should be new public hearings about the impact of the project on airplane noise over the city’s 41st Ward and suburbs like Bensenville, Wood Dale, Park Ridge, Schiller Park, and Rosemont.
“It’s just that they’re playing hide the ball,” he said.
The FAA initially said the two busiest runways, which send departing planes over Bensenville and Wood Dale, would have about 160 total daytime departures each day, but those numbers later were changed to a combined 780 daytime departures per day.
“When the FAA says that they’re going to do something this way, and then they do something the other way, they need to help get their facts straight,” Spanos said.
He said flight caps lifted after the public hearings were the key. Spanos said flights now taking off or landing every 30 seconds should be 90 seconds apart instead.
“We know that noise matters. Air safety matters even moreso. Proper intervals,” he said.
Spanos and others who live near the airport want to see the public hearing process start all over.