Bipartisan O’Hare Noise Mitigation Bill Signed into Law

Governor Bruce Rauner on Thursday signed into law a bill that will help bring relief to thousands of Illinoisans who are enduring excessive noise pollution generated by low-flying planes near O’Hare Airport.

SB636, now Public Act 99-0202, permits O’Hare Airport to increase the number of operational runways from eight to ten, which will provide for the use of four diagonal runways that produce less noise over surrounding communities. “When O’Hare realigned their runways in 2013, homeowners who were previously only minimally affected suddenly had to deal with rattling windows and extremely excessive noise any time a plane flew overhead,” said State Representative Michael McAuliffe (R-Chicago), a Chief Co-Sponsor of the bill in the House of Representatives. “This new law allows for the use of six parallel and four diagonal runways at the same time. The use of the diagonal runways produces significantly less noise pollution over nearby neighborhoods.”

In addition to allowing for an increase in the number of operational runways, the new law also seeks a more effective method for measuring loud airplane noise at night. “This measurement tool, the Community Equivalent Noise Level (CENL), allows for the calculation of sound levels utilizing a weighted numeric scale that takes into account loud noise in the evenings and overnight, and the frequency of aircraft activity over people’s homes” McAuliffe said. “It should allow more families to qualify for federal financial assistance for soundproofing improvements at their homes.”

McAuliffe applauded the bipartisan work that led to the creation of PA 99-0202. “This is a quality-of-life issue for those living near O’Hare International Airport, and lawmakers were able to come together and advance a legislative remedy that should provide a lot of people with some real relief,” said McAuliffe. “The signing of this new law is not a full solution to the O’Hare noise issue, but it is certainly a very positive step that will mitigate some of the problems these people are experiencing.”