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Massport plans dramatic expansion of noise impact area
The latest Environmental Status and Planning Report (ESPR) from Massport shows a plan for greatly expanding the areas of the towns surrounding Hanscom Field that are impacted by noise. This plan, created by Massport under the direction of the prior Republican administration, describes greatly increased aviation activities including early morning and late night cargo operations, increased commercial traffic, expansion of roads, the creation of a traffic rotary in the National Park, and increased corporate jet traffic. The actual impacts could be even greater, since Massport exceeded the plan values of the previous ESPR.
The map below was extracted from the detailed map of Figure 7-26 of the report, and shows the effect of this expansion on the four towns.
Following are more details of Massport's 2015 growth scenario for Hanscom, as set forth in the 2000 Hanscom Field Environmental Status and Planning Report (ESPR).
84 daily (26,000 annual) commercial operations - a 600 percent increase from the current level - carrying 660,000 passengers a year. This would include large numbers of flights using 50-seat regional jets.
760 new parking spaces at the Civil Air Terminal. This is more than double the current number, but it appears to be an unduly low estimate, considering that it is supposed to accommodate four times more passengers than Shuttle America carried in 2000, when the parking lot was quite crowded.
Hanscom-related traffic increasing from four percent to 15 percent of peak volume on the Battle Road (Route 2A), resulting in three intersection failures due to Hanscom-related traffic. To "mitigate" these failures, Massport proposes building three rotaries, one roundabout, and lane additions along Routes 2A and 62 in Lincoln, Concord, and Bedford. The ESPR admits that these proposals "may not be consistent with the character of the roadway" and "could require residential property land takings," but fails to note that they would actually require the taking of National Park land at Meriam's Corner and at the intersection of Brooks Road and the Battle Road.
55,000 annual business jet operations. This projection appears low in light of historical data. There were 31,000 jet operations in 2002, compared to 9,600 in 1995. Even if jet operations were to increase between 2003 and 2015 at only half the 1995-2000 rate, there would be 87,000 operations by 2015.
Development of more hangar facilities for business jets. In addition to projecting the construction of new facilities, the ESPR acknowledges that Massport is a "potential user" of the former Raytheon hangar. This would open up tremendous additional expansion opportunities for business jet activity, beyond what is described in the ESPR. Yet, even in the high growth scenarios, the ESPR assumes that Massport will not acquire this facility. There is no apparent basis for this assumption.
Noise. The number of people living between the 55 and 65 dB DNL contours (annual average noise) will more than double, to 6,470. The land area exposed to a noise level of 55 dB or more for at least 30 minutes every day (Time Above) would double, to12,460 acres. These noise forecasts would be worse if they were based on a realistic projection of increased jet operations, since jets cause 80 percent of the noise at Hanscom, according to Massport's annual noise reports.
Cargo (FedEx, etc.) 1,560 annual cargo operations, including arrivals at 5:45 a.m. and 6:30 a.m. The ESPR assumes that a cargo carrier at Hanscom would use Stage 3 jets, rather than the noisier hushkitted Stage 2 jets, but there is no basis for that assumption - hushkitted jets constitute a major part of the cargo fleet, and Massport has no authority to require a cargo carrier to use Stage 3 aircraft.