Headlines for Monday, February 1

  • Former Church Building to be Converted to 34 Units, Offer 6 Parking Spaces, 2 Blocks From Train (DNA)
  • Metra Fares Go Up Today, Single Rides Increase by 25 Cents (DNA)
  • Metra Riders Want the Higher Fares to Fund On-Time Trains (Daily Herald)
  • Emanuel Announces a New Runway at O’Hare to Open by 2020 Despite Noise Complaints (Sun-Times)
  • “Walking Across Chicago” Hikes All The Way Up Archer Avenue to Explore Neighborhoods (DNA)
  • 16 And 21-Year-Olds Die in Car Crash Outside DePaul College Prep High School (Tribune)
  • Will Mayor Emanuel Appoint a Pro-Walk, Pro-Bike Alderman for the 4th Ward? (DNA)
  • Residents Protest Million Dollar Housing Near 606 Fearing Property Tax Increase (Tribune)
  • CTA to Stock Up on Electric Buses, Paid For by Fuel Savings (CTA Tattler)
  • Chicago Joins Vision Zero Network of Cities and ATA Waits For Action Plan (Active Transportation Alliance)

Get national headlines at Streetsblog USA

  • Chicagoan

    Is it bad if I just have no sympathy for people complaining about O’Hare noise? Improvements to Midway and O’Hare seem pretty vital to Chicago’s future and didn’t just about everyone move to the area near O’Hare knowing they were going to live in close proximity to one of the world’s major airports?

  • Cameron Puetz

    I have some sympathy for them because of how significantly the impacted areas have changed, and how from the airport people are impacted. The bulk of the complaints aren’t from people right by the airport. Jefferson Park is six miles from the airport, and even as far out as Albany Park and Ravenswood jet noise has increased dramatically.

    I don’t have answer for what should be done, but people in Jefferson Park have a right to be upset about how things have been handled.

  • Chicagoan

    You can hear jet noise in Edgewater, Rogers Park, and Uptown, too. It just seems like something a lot of Chicagoans will have to accept. I don’t even know what a possible solution could be right now.

  • I was on the Archer walk, if anyone has questions (that story is incredibly cursory and inaccurate: he misquotes me twice in three sentences).

  • I have a little sympathy, but not much. The folks in Sauganash are screaming (and demanding the city pay to replace every window in their houses with noise-cancelling glass) about a noise level that was far lower than I had in my childhood bedroom — thirty feet from the Brown Line tracks and on a level with them. I never had any problem sleeping through it, and they’ll get used to it too.

    But most people who live in Sauganash want to get away with paying lower city property taxes in a nearly-gated community right on the highway so they can pretend they live in the suburbs while getting a lot of advantages of living in Chicago. In their view, silent rural bucolic existence is their right.

  • Chicagoan

    What did you think of Mr. Ward (the journalist)? I’ve heard some complaints about his writing for DNAinfo.

  • Let me guess, those Daily Herald readers all ride either the BNSF or one of the UP lines, and there’s not much Metra can do about it?

  • Chicagoan

    If Mr. Madigan and Mr. Rauner could put their differences aside and pass a budget, wouldn’t Metra move forwards with their capital improvements project?

  • He seemed all right in person, but wow, that article is phoned in. I could literally write something better (with more pictures — because I TOOK some) in about twenty minutes’ effort. He could certainly have been putting more effort into getting quotes from other walkers. And he completely stops talking about the route after Western, which implies to me he just went home. And he was WRITING DOWN what I said while we talked and he still massively misquotes me. And spelled my name wrong. And called me “she”.

  • Chicagoan

    I really like DNAinfo, the hyper-local angle is a great concept. But, the quality of journalism from them is all over the place. Some of their writers do very good work and seem to actually care about the neighborhoods they handle, while others seem to really “mail it in” on their stuff.

  • BlueFairlane

    Moreover, the O’Hare expansion has been an ongoing saga for darn near 30 years, so anybody moving into these neighborhoods during the last three decades knew this was coming.

    As far as the people complaining in Jefferson or Albany Parks, the planes aren’t considerably lower there than they are when they pass over my house in Logan Square. And again, Jefferson Park has always been beneath one of the more common approach paths, at least ever since I moved here a decade ago. These people are just a version of people who move to Wrigleyville and complain about the ball park. I’ve got zero sympathy.

  • It doesn’t help that they pay a pittance. I know several folks who worked for them between college and finding a better journo job, and the work conditions are apparently soul-killing.

  • Extending the Brown Line is fine for folks living below Addison or Irving. For folks north of there BRT’s down Peterson or Lawrence might be better.

  • Chicagoan

    Really? That makes me kind of sad. Writing about Chicago for a living seems like a dream to me.

  • Yeah, but those are still trains that Metra doesn’t run.

  • BlueFairlane

    You’re getting at the biggest problem with modern journalism. Yes, writing about Chicago for a living is a dream for a huge number of people, but paying to read what somebody has written about Chicago is not. Locally-focused internet outlets like DNA or Streetsblog either have to use labor with pay that ranges somewhere between poverty and slave–accepting whatever journalistic shortcomings come with that–or be extremely creative with some sort of crowd-sourced funding model. Streetsblog is a good example of a site trying its darndest for the latter, but even when its successful it can only afford a semi-decent wage for one guy. And that’s fine for a single-issue advocacy site, but you need a lot of people writing to pull off what DNA’s trying to do.

    In the end, you get what you pay for, and the internet is free.

  • An east-west line straight from the Red line to the Blue would provide better interconnectedness. Say, along Foster, Peterson, or Devon, with a short Brown Line spur up to meet it.

    Actually, Touhy would be amazing (interconnecting to the mall and a bunch of senior apartments), but seems much less likely to happen. Extend the Skokie down Gross Point and Touhy to Harlem, then connect to the Blue there? While I”m dreaming. That’d make a great Evanston/O’Hare link.

  • The questions are:

    What does and what doesn’t constitute an improvement?

    What is “close proximity”?

    O’Hare is not really comparable to Wrigley Field, because the impact of the latter will always be fairly tightly defined in terms of geography. It’s intense right around the ballpark for a few blocks, and also spills to the expressway heading west in terms of traffic. People that moved 2 blocks from Wrigley that are just total haters of nightlife and crowds can be ignored, but when the new sound system was poorly installed and people living over a half-mile from the ballpark could hear the announcer clear as a bell, that’s IMO a legitimate complaint.

    Additionally, residents had a modern “improvement” – night lighting – shoved down their throats in I think 1988, and that was a game changer for how the ballpark impacted the neighborhood. The neighborhood residents were promised a fairly small and tightly defined number of night games, and the City and Cubs have been reneging on that ever since.

    All that said, Wrigley Field’s advantages vastly outweigh its disadvantages. And the whole neighborhood has evolved with it, and will continue to, even though there will always be some friction.

    But what seems to be happening with O’Hare is greatly different, as no, nobody could have predicted that flight paths would be as dramatically changed as they were recently, and there is a dangerous slippery slope here in terms of “proximity,” which would seem to now include the entire NW Side. This is not like a compare and contrast with physical L tracks – those don’t move. This is a case where economic/logistical (they are joined at the hip) considerations have resulted in planes cruising close to homes where they never were before, as they used to go over the Lake.

    http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2015/12/15/altered-flight-paths-could-cut-ohare-noise-for-thousands/

    “Thousands fewer residents could be affected by nighttime jet noise if
    planes altered their flight paths — sometimes by as little as 30 degrees
    — after they depart O’Hare International Airport, consultants for the
    Chicago Department of Aviation said Monday…

    Despite the new information about the number of people affected by
    departing flight paths, no such details were given for homes impacted by
    arriving flights. Arrivals have heavily affected Chicagoans since
    O’Hare began using mostly east-west parallel runways in October 2013.
    Since then, 70 percent of all arriving jets have approached O’Hare over
    the Northwest Side of the city.”

  • Chicagoan

    I’ve always felt like moving the Brown Line to the western end of Albany Park would be a great thing for the neighborhood. The western end has a great housing stock and there are solid schools in Albany Park (Edison Regional Gifted Center, Von Steuben). It could be an appealing place for families.

    I just don’t get why the CTA wants to extend the Orange Line to Ford City and the Yellow Line to Old Orchard. The future of shopping malls seems bleak, why would they want to make such a large investment when Ford City could close down the line?

  • The brown line already stops blocks from Edison, I’m not sure what you’re getting at.

    Ford City is an employment nexus, and always WILL be, no matter what they put in that enormous piece of land. It’s never going to go residential, not with the existing development patterns around it. Transit should go to jobs, especially when those jobs also pull customers/consumers/users of services there. Old Orchard is also adjacent to an ENORMOUS high school: those kids could use transit connectivity, for going downtown after school and on the weekends if no other reason.

  • Jeff Gio

    Thanks for encouraging me to increase my monthly contribution

  • The noise that these people are complaining about suddenly getting is not even as loud as the regular passage of semis on the big arterial streets. Of course, Sauganash has no arterial streets, or semis, but they live in a city and cities have noise sometimes.

    The reason they talk about departures and not arrivals is that the noise is significantly louder on departure (the plane has to get itself up there in a hurry). Arrivals noise is quieter than the El in most cases (or, quieter than half-a-block from the El, at least).

    It’s not continuous.

    It’s not life-alteringly loud.

    They can suck it up, or move to Naperville.

  • what_eva

    I don’t know that I agree that planes aren’t considerably lower for Jefferson Park. You’re talking ~6 miles from east edge of the airfield to Central, ~9 miles to Kedzie. 1/3 the way closer is more or less 1/3 closer to the ground (in most cases, the planes would be on final approach/constant slope).

  • Chicagoan

    Regarding my Edison comment, I was just speaking about the nice things Albany Park has, combined with Von Steuben. Though, Von Steuben is actually just over the river in North Park. Still, it’s close and a great amenity for the area.

    I was just saying how Albany Park is pretty nice right now but having great transit throughout the whole neighborhood could bolster it even more.

  • I’m not personally bothered, I grew up close to L tracks and can hear the Blue Line trains and Kimball bus from my backyard. But my and your definition of “life-alteringly loud” may not be the industry standard, so to speak.

    And there is a third option to sucking it up or moving, and that’s organizing, complaining and suing. The only conclusion I’ve drawn from this is not nearly enough people were consulted, including elected representatives at multiple levels of government.

  • Anne A

    There are also a lot of offices, restaurants and entertainment destinations around Old Orchard. Better transit service there would make a LOT of sense.

  • Elected officials were consulted. They decided it wasn’t a problem. Alderman Mell lives in Sauganash and is notably silent in the yelling-for-the-city-to-change-airport-policy debate.

  • planetshwoop

    I think you mean Laurino? Mell lives in the 33rd.

  • planetshwoop

    I disagree about it not being continuous — during busy periods I have stood in my backyard and noticed that the planes were coming between ever 90 – 180 seconds (I timed it).

  • Let’s try and pull this back from the brink of shark jumping:

    https://quigley.house.gov/ohare-noise-pollution

  • GA

    Everybody up there basically had a stroke the last time the CTA proposed extending the Yellow Line to the mall. The’re not about to make that mistake again when they have lots of other things to spend money on that won’t produce so many loud complainers.

  • Argh. Marge. Yes.

  • He wants to keep the diagonal runways open, when closing the diagonal runways (having no runways that cross each other, so all can be used simultaneously at need) was the entire point of the expansion project. I think Mike Quigley’s gone so far up his NIMBYness that he’s lost sight of what’s actually achievable.

    Or else he cares more about selling himself to his constituents as “the person fighting airport noise” while knowing nothing he’s talking about can actually happen.

  • So you don’t like Quigley doing his job and advocating for his constituents, yet think Mell is a trustworthy source for having actually vetted that project with his? Even though the 33rd ward is nowhere O’Hare? I think you have a lot to learn about the dodgy ways of Chicago politicians, and about how quality of life issues get swept under the rug in the interest of people making money.

    More:

    http://chicago.suntimes.com/news/7/71/564028/new-ohare-flight-paths-wake-hundreds-chicagoans-sound-insulation-help-sight

    O’Hare International Airport jet traffic kept hundreds of Chicago residents awake in March, even though they live outside an area predicted to shoulder the worst noise from new flight paths, a Chicago Sun-Times analysis of citizen website data indicates…

    In fact, in Chicago, the March sleep complaints stretch as far east as the city’s 48th Ward along Lake Michigan.
    That’s 13 miles from the center of O’Hare and more than 8 miles beyond the limits of the noise contour area that Federal Aviation Administration experts predicted would incur onerous jet noise once an $8 billion O’Hare Modernization Program is completed.

  • I think it’s widely known among the political class (especially those long in office, like Quigley), what can actually be achieved. Honest politicians will explain this to their constituents. Dishonest or self-deceiving ones will shout and trumpet completely impossible positions for gain.

  • Jared Kachelmeyer

    Unfortunately its not very walkable once you get off the train. The obvious ROW is to the west of Niles HS so its a bit of a hike to get to the actual mall while the bus route drops you off right at the mall.

  • There is some truth to that, but that’s also a self fulfilling prophecy. Politicians who just don’t want to do diddly find all kinds of reasons not to be transparent and share information, and this is how the status quo perpetuates itself.

    But I’m looking at the facts as stated in the article:

    “complaints stretch as far east as the city’s 48th Ward along Lake Michigan. That’s 13 miles from the center of O’Hare and more than 8 miles beyond the limits of the noise contour area that Federal Aviation Administration
    experts predicted would incur onerous jet noise once an $8 billion O’Hare Modernization Program is completed.”

    And I’m sensing execution problems at every level – the research clearly was insufficient to properly account for the impact (or was conducted in such a fashion as to favor the project), and/or appropriate transparency and public input was not done. Now, to nobody’s surprise lots and lots and lots of people are hugely po’d.

    Again, this is nothing like Wrigley Field, which was part of a neighborhood dotted with light industry/factories from the get go (I grew up a mile away). O’Hare’s “backyard” can not be accurately described as 8, much less 13, miles from its actual property. The City had to annex land just to connect to it, and that was actually fairly recently. Just look at it:

    http://www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/924.html

  • I agree that people even at the lakeshore are hearing more noise than they were.

    But if you actually get out there with sound meters, it’s not a significant change, and certainly not rising to the level of anything government has to address. Even in Sauganash it’s not nearly as loud as living next to the El, and nobody tries to sue the city over that.

  • I understand your point, and agree that data should drive the conversation. But that seems to be the problem – people were told noise impacts would be constrained to a certain distance (and even that was like contentious) and the real impacts seem to be vastly greater.

    This is not like living next to L tracks, which are fixed in terms of impact (trains aren’t getting louder), and are well known buy home buyers and renters. The whole point of the project is to increase flights, which obviously will directly correlate with more noise.

    My major concern is that we don’t set ourselves up to fail here. There seems to be a lack of accountability when it comes to O’Hare and the City of Chicago, from the Block 37 boondoggle to this question of the FAA analysis.

    Even minor variations in background noise are a big deal. The one similarity with living by L tracks would be that while access to an L *stop* is valuable, property values and rents do decrease when you’re talking about proximity to the tracks and noise. Same thing with O’Hare and the Blue Line stations that extended to it.

    It’s one thing to have some white noise in the background, you can get used to that. But more dynamic noise is very hard to ignore, if you’re like me and you want to be outside gardening, reading, socializing with friends and family, etc.

    When we were househunting I wrote off any property where I could actually make out individually articulated sounds of traffic on 90/94, and same thing with the Blue Line. And I will tell you from personal experience (and I have spent a decent amount of time in professional music studios) that very small changes in proximity can make a colossal difference, 100 feet one way or the other was a deal breaker – and real estate values actually reflected that pretty accurately.

    It’s all about balance. I can hear the Blue Line rumble – no problem. We actually briefly lived on Kimball right along the trench south of Belmont, totally dealable. The Kimball bus? It’s now audible, and pointlessly so. At some point they upgraded the speakers with newer models, and the volume increased substantially – there is no good reason why anyone should have to hear the sound of CTA robot man when they are two City lots and an alley (call it ~300 feet) away from a bus stop.

    So I’m inclined to say that what is happening with the plane noise is not something to ignore or brush aside. O’Hare is obviously here to stay, and it’s a great asset for the region. The number of people who work there is pretty staggering, I want to say all-in it is maybe 30,000.

    But even that doesn’t mean the NW Side is the Loop and Central Business Area. It was a residential area for what, 3/4 of a century before O’Hare and the expressway came into being. People should have a reasonable amount of security that where they invest in a neighborhood and raise children isn’t going to go from zero to 60 overnight.

    Nice talking with you, seriously. I enjoy thinking about and sharing views re: how City infrastructure and land usage can change and improve from a big picture perspective, this is Chicago, after all.