March 18, 2018
The City of Park Ridge (particularly the southern end of the municipality) has been one of the hardest hit communities for air and noise pollution since the build out of the O’Hare Modernization Plan (OMP). Beginning in 2008, with the commissioning of the Pratt Avenue/Belle Plaine Runway (9L/27R, far northern parallel runway) and its subsequent activation for regular duty in October 2013, the residents of Park Ridge have experienced an unending assault on their senses from arriving and departing aircraft sequenced nearly two minutes apart.
Park Ridge is located less than two miles from the northeast border of O’Hare, represents an area of about seven square miles and is home to over 37,000 residents. With a population density of 5,211 per square mile, Park Ridge is a municipality with the highest population density in proximity to O’Hare. At $92,474, Park Ridge ranks as one of the highest median household income municipalities in the State of Illinois.
Approximately 55%-60% of the population of Park Ridge reside south of Touhy Avenue. There are two elementary schools and one middle school south of Touhy Avenue enrolling approximately 2000 students. The Central Business District is located at Touhy and Northwest Highway; and there are nine parks in the southern portion of Park Ridge.
Four runways currently affect Park Ridge residents, particularly those living on the south end: Pratt/Belle Plaine parallel (9L/27R), Thorndale parallel (9R/27L), and the two remaining northeast to southwest diagonal runways (4L/22R and 4R/22L). A fifth runway aligned with Granville one block south of Devon (9R/27L) will be open in 2020, and contribute further traffic. Also, the Thorndale runway (9R/27L) will be extended to 11,260 feet and opened in 2021. Both runways are expected to take 60% of the overnight cargo traffic once they are activated. Over 60% of all commercial and cargo arrivals and departures from O’Hare will use these five runways once the final build-out of OMP is complete.
Park Ridge residents under the O’Hare flight paths currently experience jet noise in the range of 65 - 120 decibels on a 24/7 basis. (65 decibels is considered an ‘unhealthy’ threshold, 120 decibels is considered physically damaging to the human body.) As a result, Park Ridge residents experience consistent and sustained general annoyance, stress, sleep disturbance, and impaired cognitive performance. Noise annoyance, chronic stress, and sleep disturbance ultimately contributes to the development of cardiovascular risk of coronary artery disease, arterial hypertension, stroke, and heart failure.
Being within the 5 mile red zone for jet air pollution and ultrafine particulates, south Park Ridge residents harmfully inhale and have skin-contact with a daily dose of toxins. The highest concentration of ultrafine particulates, black carbon, and nitrogen oxides (roughly 10 times above normal) are within a few miles of O’Hare. Schools and homes within the southern portion of Park Ridge are being inundated with an overwhelming source of air pollution. The long-term impact on Park Ridge resident health could be catastrophic, particularly for school children and the elderly.
Finally, Park Ridge residents logged a monthly average of 36,179 complaints for 2017. In October 2017, residents logged their greatest number of complaints at 64,988; the highest figure ever recorded in Park Ridge’s history. In comparison, the monthly average of complaints for 2012 was 129.