AT THE SPEED OF SOUND
Chicago’s Sound Insulation Program Accelerates to Keep Pace with O’Hare Modernization | By Amy Malick
Chicago O’Hare International is one of the world’s busiest airports with more than 875,000 total operations in 2011. With this level of flight activity
comes aircraft noise, making noise mitigation an
important component of an airport’s operation.
The Chicago Department Aviation (CDA) administers one of the largest sound insulation programs
for homes and schools in the U.S., providing
sound insulation for thousands of homes near
O’Hare since 1995. As the O’Hare Modernization
Program (OMP) continues to transform O’Hare’s
airfield, the CDA is accelerating its sound insulation efforts ahead of new runways scheduled to
open in the next few years.
“The CDA is committed to being a good neigh-
bor to the communities surrounding O’Hare,” said
Commissioner Rosemarie Andolino. “Our sound
insulation programs are an important part of our
efforts to achieve a balance between the airport’s
busy environment and the quality of life for those
who live in close proximity to the airport.”
A constant stream of arrivals and departures,
about 2,400 operations, goes through O’Hare every
day. O’Hare is unique among airports in that while
being owned and operated by the city of Chicago,
the airport is bordered on all sides by suburban
communities. In fact, only a narrow strip of land
that runs west from Chicago connects O’Hare to
the rest of the city.
The airport was built on what was once an
orchard field, which is where its designator code
ORD originates. Since the mid-20th century, the
airport and its surroundings have experienced
tremendous development. Gradually, O’Hare has
become surrounded by industrial corridors, office
space, retail, hotels, convention centers, entertainment venues, and air and rail cargo handlers.
O’Hare also is surrounded by densely populated
The OMP is transforming O’Hare’s airfield from an
outdated system of intersecting runways into a modern parallel runway configuration to reduce flight
delays and increase capacity well into the future.
Upon full build-out of the OMP, O’Hare will have six
parallel runways and two crosswind runways.
Prior to OMP construction, which began in 2005,
O’Hare had seven runways and multiple arrival and