CHICAGO — Three members of Illinois' congressional delegation are calling on the Federal Aviation Administration to complete a new environmental impact study and hold new public hearings on Chicago's $8 billion runway expansion.
The request follows public complaints over noise from new flight paths and a published report that found the FAA released incorrect information on the new flight paths at hearings but later corrected it.
The request was made to FAA Administrator Michael Huerta in a letter from U.S. Representatives Mike Quigley, Tammy Duckworth, and Jan Schakowsky, all Illinois Democrats.
The letter cites the "inaccuracy and incompleteness" of information released at hearings in 2005 on the city's $8 billion expansion plan that included new runways. They questioned the "integrity" of the process.
"The FAA's failure to focus on areas most impacted by the OMP in their public hearings and the inaccuracy and incompleteness of the information provided given the changes that have taken place since then is disappointing and calls into question the integrity or the environmental impact study process,'' the letter says.
The three want a new environmental impact study completed and assistance in noise reduction.
The runway expansion and reconfiguration program was launched in 2001 to expand capacity and relieve bad weather delays that impact the national grid. It was supposed to be completed by 2014, but it's been pushed back as some projects are on hold due to airline opposition and demands that construction is tied to travel demand.
The city has completed the first phase of the program and construction is underway on some second phase projects and other improvement projects like a new consolidated car rental center. Several new runways have opened.
The airport's major airlines sued the city to block a bond sale for projects it had not signed off on but reached an agreement in 2011 on projects totaling $1.17 billion. The pact called for the parties to return to the bargaining table on a final $2 billion worth of projects but no agreement has been reached. A $2 billion western terminal is also on hold.