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News Article - April 03 2006

Andrews, LoBiondo voice concern over FAA airport plans
  Federal Aviation Administration plans to redesign airspace over New Jersey to combat flight delays would expand the county areas already plagued by noise and vibrations from overhead planes, according to FAA materials. The FAA last week unveiled four possible plans to the public to redesign airspace in New Jersey, Philadelphia and New York. Two of the plans would increase noise from air traffic in Paulsboro, Greenwich and East Greenwich, according to graphic displays provided by the FAA. The new air traffic routes would decrease noise in Logan Township, according to FAA materials.

   Congressmen Robert Andrews, D-1st Dist., and Frank LoBiondo, R-2nd Dist., this week both expressed concerns with the proposed FAA redesign plans. Andrews said he plans to formally record his concerns before the end of the FAA's public comment period June 1. His top concerns include additional noise, possible safety problems and cost of the redesign.

   One of the plans -- to add more departure routes over the state by merging two air traffic control centers -- would cost the federal government anywhere from $150 million to $250 million. The money would be used to build a new traffic control center. "This is all taxpayer money going into these projects one way or the other," Andrews said. "We should be solving problems, not making them worse."

   "I have concerns with a number of the FAA's proposed changes to current aviation routes over the state, particularly those into the Philadelphia International Airport, which could negatively affect South Jersey communities," he said. "I continue to monitor this situation and encourage those who live along the proposed routes to voice their opinions during this public comment period." FAA Acting Airspace and Procedures Manager Steven Kelley said the FAA is working to make airports more efficient in the future. "There's going to be growth in traffic," he said. "We're looking to reduce delays and increase efficiency."

   The FAA will choose one of the following plans within a year for implementation:

Reconfigure flight schedules in airports without redesigning airspace. Modify the existing airspace by shifting departures from Philadelphia further east, resulting in added flights over towns bordering the Delaware River. Move Newark departures over the Atlantic Ocean before they return west, a plan developed by the N.J. Citizens for Environmental Research, Inc. to decrease noise pollution in the state. Merge the airspace in two air traffic control areas by stacking departures from Philadelphia with another westbound route at a second altitude. This plan requires $150 million to $250 million in federal funding. County residents recently voiced concerns about increased noise, vibration and pollution.

   West Deptford resident Cesare Cosenza said he is concerned with the proposed redesign plans as well as current construction to expand a runway -- the 17-35 expansion -- at the Philadelphia International Airport. "With the runway and the diversion of air traffic," he said. "It's going to be unbelievable." Another West Deptford resident who already hears noise from planes said she is dissatisfied with the public meetings offered by the FAA, because she believes their comments do not carry much weight. "To my mind, it's a done deal," she said.

   FAA materials indicate that, compared to doing nothing, noise would increase in Paulsboro, Greenwich and East Greenwich by an average of 5 decibels -- comparable to a person speaking at a distance of three feet -- if plans to integrate airspace or modify existing airspace are approved. In Logan, noise levels would decrease by five decibels compared to the FAA taking no action considering the inevitable increase of air traffic over time. In measuring the average decibels, the FAA incorporates noise levels from the loudest plane as well as times during the day when no planes fly overhead. The public comment period for the plans ends June 1. Residents may send comments to Faa.deis@ngc.com.

Rep. Andrews is also soliciting comments on the project at www.house.gov/andrews.

LoBiondo may be reached at www.house.gov/lobiondo.

Source - NJ.Com

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