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"Shovel Ready" projects at Hanscom Field threaten historic environment


The state list of "shovel ready" projects for funding under the  aviation section of the federal stimulus package of 2009 includes two items for infrastructure improvements for Hanscom Field.  The following cryptic summaries are available from the Governor's list of "State Reviewed, Shovel-Ready Projects"


Item 1: $8,000,000; Hanscom Airfield Rehab Taxiway M, G and E- Hanscom Field- Bedford

Hanscom Airfield is the primary general and corporate aviation facility in Eastern Massachusetts. Many corporations in this area rely on it for their corporate aviation activities, and they consider the quality of corporate aviation facilities when making expansion and relocation decisions; therefore, maintaining Hanscom's facilities in a safe and modern condition can have a significant impact on long-term employment in the area.


Item 2: $1,750,000; Hanscom Airfield Rehab Taxiway M, G and E- Hanscom Field- Bedford

The availability and location of high quality corporate aviation facilities is usually an important factor in corporate expansion and relocation decisions. Hanscom Field has excellent airside infrastructure and is situated in the heart of the high technology and business corridor of Routes 128 and 2A. Hanscom Field supports Massachusetts businesses and helps ensure that Massachusetts business will stay in Massachusetts. Many businesses located in the 128/495 corridor require corporate hangars in close proximity to their offices, facilitating both domestic and international operations.


These projects are proposed to use taxpayer funds to support the growth and expansion of private luxury aircraft, including corporate jets, flying over the surrounding towns and historic sites.   While it is conceivable that some overriding public good could warrant the degradation of the historic area, in this case any rational review shows that further development of Hanscom Field is not in the public interest.


1) The area surrounding the airport was designated as one of “The 11 Most Endangered Historic Places in America” by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and as a “Last Chance Landscape”, by Scenic America, specifically because of the threat of air traffic growth at Hanscom Field. These projects will support an increase in aviation operations at the airport and threaten historic resources. Massport’s own environmental report related to the subject projects indicates that aircraft operations growth is falling short of the Massport expansion plan, “…but the initial development of the East Ramp would help achieve it.” We believe that the Commonwealth should prioritize infrastructure investments that help protect and enhance the economic engine of tourism and should not fund projects that threaten our historic resources.

2) These projects would support and encourage the most environmentally unsound mode of transportation known. Corporate jets emit more carbon dioxide per passenger mile than any other form of transportation and cannot realistically be considered part of any long term carbon reduction scenario. According to a recent report , private jets typically generate 15 times the CO2 equivalent per passenger mile than commercial airliners do. Society now has the technology to move vehicle and rail transportation toward electricity generated from low carbon sources, but there is no known technology to reduce the carbon impact of jets. We believe that the Commonwealth should focus infrastructure funds on transportation modes that have the potential for long term carbon reduction.

3) These projects support a transportation mode that services a very small elite fraction of the population. When so many of our citizens are in need, we don’t see how spending public funds for an elite few users of private luxury aircraft can be justified or explained. We believe that the Commonwealth should focus infrastructure funds on transportation modes that serve all the people, such as roads and rail.   Massport attempts to confuse this issue by talking about the role of Hanscom in providing military and medical helicopter flights.  It must be noted that 98% of flights out of Hanscom are not military, and that the stimulus funds are not being used to support the parts of the airport used by medical helicopter flights.

4) These projects are opposed by the surrounding towns. Each of the four surrounding towns has voted in their town meetings that Massport should not add infrastructure to Hanscom Field: “To protect against significant financial costs to the town or loss of economic opportunities for local businesses caused by land development or expansion of aviation operations at Hanscom Field” . In a unique collaboration, the elected officials of the towns, state and federal representatives, including a comprehensive list of community organizations have joined together to issue a joint proclamation titled “Hanscom at the Crossroads” which calls for the halt of infrastructure development at Hanscom Field. We believe that the Commonwealth should focus infrastructure funds on projects that are wanted and needed by the communities, and not on projects that are opposed by the communities.

5) The need for these projects is actually declining. According to Massport, the use of Hanscom Field as measured by flight operations peaked in 1985 has declined for the last 6 years in a row . This decline can be expected to accelerate due to the recent announcements of Bank of American, Citigroup, Wachovia, and other companies that they will dramatically reduce their jet fleets. In a recent public meeting, Massport claimed that the infrastructure improvements are in anticipation of a hypothetical rebound of private jet travel. Under the current economic climate, we believe that the Commonwealth should invest in clearly demonstrable current needs and not in a hypothetical and uncertain need that is not supported by any measurable trend.

6) The rationale given for the projects is not based on verifiable facts. Massport argues that companies will site in Massachusetts and create jobs as a result of enhanced corporate jet facilities. Massport has not produced any government or industry statistics to support this assertion. In fact, studies repeatedly show that access to skilled workforce, quality of life, and schools are the key factors businesses use in location decisions . Corporate jet facilities do not appear on published list of the drivers of business site selection. Massport also claims substantial economic contributions from Hanscom Field, but these calculations are not consistent with the FAA methodology and, according to submissions made during the Hanscom Field Environmental Status and Planning Update , grossly overstate the economic benefit of the airport. The Commonwealth should invest funds in projects that are clearly and demonstrably linked to long term job development and not to projects with a hypothetical and unproven link.

7) These projects are highly controversial. During a previous expansion implementation at Hanscom Field in September, 1999, over 700 local citizens marched on Hanscom Field, and held a protest rally where community, state, and federal representatives spoke against the project. A similar response to these projects is foreseeable.

For the above reasons, Save Our Heritage finds that infrastructure improvements for Hanscom Field are not in the public interest and we urge that they be removed from consideration for Federal or local funding as part of the Commonwealth’s “Infrastructure Mobilization Effort” or any other funding program.



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