Residents were up in arms Wednesday night when they learned hundreds of homes around Bradley International Airport would become ineligible for federal subsidies to soundproof their homes.
What was even more startling to some who attended Wednesday’s informational meeting at the New England Air Museum was the number of homes that will be eligible under the airport’s redrawn noise exposure map.
According to Bradley’s study, the following number of residential properties in East Granby, Suffield, Windsor Locks and Windsor have been identified as impacted noise-sensitive properties:
Community Total Impacted Dwellings East Granby 0 Suffield 25 Windsor 44 Windsor Locks 0 Total 69
According to Stuart Cummings, the project's lead consultant, Bradley’s 2008 noise exposure map produced 638 residential properties eligible for the residential sound insulating program (RSIP). The newly drawn map, however, which is a projection of 2013 noise limits and levels, produced just 69 eligible properties.
Cummings, along with acoustical consultant Alan Hass, delivered a presentation to a standing-room-only Air Museum hall, touting decreased noise levels in the Bradley area.
According to Hass, four two-week samples of flight patterns were observed in January, April, July and September 2012. From those samples, flight track models were produced, and, with information on what type of aircrafts were being flown and the nature of operations, areas most affected by noise were calculated.
The number of eligible properties has decreased since the noise exposure map was last updated in 2008 because of a sharp decline in flights and advances in technology, Hass said.
Bradley has seen a decline of more than 100 flights per day since 2008 and aircrafts flown these days are less noisy, he said.
Despite the findings reported by Hass, many residents in attendance found it hard to believe that their properties were no longer RSIP eligible when they are either directly under a flight path or right next to the airport.
Mary Roberge, a Windsor Locks condo owner, described aircraft noise over her now ineligible home as life disrupting.
"In the morning, at night, if there's (an airplane) coming in, it's so loud it can wake you up. It's stop-on-the-phone-and-wait-until-it-passes kind of loud," she said.
"If you can throw a rock and hit (a plane), you should be in the (RSIP) zone," said Roberge, describing her Concord Landing condo's proximity to the flight path.
Fellow Windsor Locks resident Kevin Dwelley described high noise levels and extremely close aircraft encounters, as well.
"We were backing out of our driveway. The plane was going over the house behind us, and if I was standing on the guy's roof, I probably could have touched it with a broom," said Dwelley.
"Most of the time it's not bad," Dwelley said of the noise. "It's just that every day there are a few that are excessively loud. The bigger jets. The military jets. It's every day, and he's talking about decreased traffic. Well, the traffic may decrease, but that doesn't decrease the noise, it just decreases how often it happens."
Hass, Cummings and even Environmental Program Manager for the Federal Aviation Administration Richard Doucette could offer little in the form of comfort to a room full of frustrated homeowners.
They each told the audience the newly drawn map will be submitted to the FAA in May, and the approval process will take 60 days.
The official number of eligible homes, and which homes will be identified as eligible, will not be available until FAA approval has been received.