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Driscoll Speaks at MassPort Hearing on Air Traffic

March 9, 2017

BOSTON – (2/23/17) The following remarks were made this evening at the State Transportation building by Representative Driscoll:

 

Good evening, Mr. Glynn, Mr. Carlon, and Ms. Saltzman. Members of the Massport Board of Directors, the Massport leadership team, and CAC members – thank you for the opportunity to speak here today.

 

My Name is Bill Driscoll Jr., State Representative for the 7th Norfolk district representing Milton and Randolph.

 

The Town of Milton is being unduly burdened with air traffic. There has been an exponential increase regarding the concentration of air traffic over Milton since the next gen changes were made in 2013, and we need relief.

 

The result of the RNAV change has been a demonstrable decrease in the quality of life. Planes fly overhead every thirty to ninety seconds for eighteen hours a day, starting in the early hours of the morning and stre

 

tching into the late hours of the night. It’s disruptive to sleeping patterns and the noise alone causes significant hardship to the affected residents.

 

The example I often use when discussing this issue with my colleagues is that of a harp. Imagine, if you will, the slide that we were shown earlier that demonstrated the spread of flights to and from Logan airport over time. The green thread lines represent what used to occur and the red lines represent how the concentration of flights has tightened up over the same neighborhoods since the RNVA changes – the very reason we are here tonight. Imagine these threads as a harp. Now imagine a harpist in an orchestra playing only a single string on their instrument. The tune doesn’t sound right and, moreover, the resultant effect on the ears of the audience is torturous. Whoever the conductor of the orchestra is, they have changed the song sheet so that now only a single string is being played over and over again. That is what is happening right now in Milton – we are being forced to listen to the same note on repeat, over and over again.

 

I also must take issue with the characterization of the complaints as only coming from a handful of people, as well as the other implication that just because certain households file many more complaints than others they are somehow unreasonable in their approach. The effort to discredit the complaint data is an affront to residents who have only one means of recourse in this matter. Around 500 households are regularly filing complaints via the phone and the web. The issue of complaint data leads me neatly onto my next point.

 

Prior to January 4th when I filed complaints I represented my household of three people. I can tell you that, last summer, as I went door to door to almost every street in town, this was the number one issues people raised. So when I file a complaint in the future I now hope that your heat maps and pie charts will reflect the fact that I represent more than 22,000 people in Milton as their state representative. If that will help you take their cries for relief more seriously in this process than please reflect my complaint calls accordingly in the data.

 

The concern and uproar from residents is not unfounded.

 

Milton is experiencing a level of air traffic like never before. The frequency of planes is taking a toll on sleep, quality of life and many of us are extremely concerned about the effects of particulates in the air emitted from engines flying at low altitudes overhead.

 

Planes are not going to go away, or stop flying over our heads. We understand this – given our proximity to the airport and the fact that we are close to a major metropolitan city. But no one wants to see this current level of air traffic continue for one more day.

 

I again stand before you and I urge you to explore measures such as:

Mandating the installation of Vortex Generators on airplanes flying in Massachusetts airspace. Reportedly, utilizing the Vortex generators could reduce noise levels by up to 9 decibels per plane. Let’s do this tomorrow and then continue the study talked about earlier tonight.

 

Implement Optimized Profile Descent (OPD), a method by which aircraft approach airports prior to landing. It is designed to reduce fuel consumption and noise compared to other conventional descents.

 

And lastly, spread the air traffic traveling via flight paths out equitably over the region and utilize routes over water during nighttime and early AM hours, so that going forward Milton is not overburdened with disruption and concentrated health hazards.

 

I am glad to see the possible actions and changes being explored as a part of the MOU and resulting study by the gentleman from MIT that presented earlier.

 

I am committed to working with my community and other elected officials to come to a resolution on this issue that has so negatively impacted our quality of life. I echo the sentiments of the gentleman from East Boston that constituencies such as ours need immediate relief from the constant barrage we are currently facing, and I will gladly involve myself in any effort that might bring such a resolution in reach.

 

Thank you for your time and your consideration.

 

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