Chicago to Save Cash on Soundproofing

The city's early plans to build new runways at O'Hare Airport called for soundproofing approximately 300 to 400 more homes than are now scheduled to be insulated by the time the expansion is complete.

That could lead to a savings of $10 million to $12 million on noise mitigation, officials said, bringing the expected total to $208 million.

By 2013, close to 6,000 homes in Chicago and the near northwest suburbs are to receive free insulation against noise generated by new flight patterns at O'Hare, based on an analysis released in 2005 by the Federal Aviation Administration.

The city, in drafting its budget for the expansion back in 2001, assumed the number of homes would be larger, said Roderick Drew, a spokesman for the city's O'Hare Modernization Program. But OMP executive director Rosemarie Andolino stressed that the city isn't cutting corners.

"We are adhering to the requirements of the FAA," she said. "Nobody's taking any shortcuts here."

Brian Gilligan, executive director of the O'Hare Noise Compatibility Commission, also noted airport noise levels have been declining for years.

The FAA created its noise footprint to include homes that would experience average day-night sound levels of 65 decibels or above. But opponents of the runway expansion say this way of measuring airport-generated noise doesn't accurately reflect noise impacts during peak periods.

Homes in Chicago, Des Plaines, Rosemont and Park Ridge are among those to be insulated. Soundproofing costs about $30,000 per home.

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O'Hare noise complaints have been declining since 1998. The most complaints, by far, are about low-flying planes.

Highest day-night noise levels in August

(measured in decibels)

Elk Grove Village 76.8

Franklin Park 68.9

Des Plaines 68.3

Unincorporated Cook 66.3

Norridge 65.8

Noise complaint callers by community (Jan. to Aug.)

Chicago 79

Des Plaines 64

Park Ridge 52

Elk Grove Village 21

Bensenville 20

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