News Article - July 20 2006

Expansion could rock Delco's ears
  RIDLEY PARK - Delaware County lawmakers are looking to prevent airport expansion, which they believe will negatively affect local residents. Delaware County council is calling for increased public discourse before the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) implements a plan that would increase flights over many Delaware County municipalities. "Our concern turned to shock ... once you look at the affected population," said Councilman John Whelan at a press conference in Ridley Park July 13. "We believe the FAA is disregarding Delaware County." Whelan was joined by all county council, as well as State Sen. Ted Erickson (R-26) and State Rep. Tom Gannon (R-161).

   The airspace redesign plan will divert flights over the county causing up to a 900 percent increase in noise levels in townships like Ridley, according to Council President Andrew Riley. "It's a disturbance to the quality of life," Riley said. "As if a decibel increase of 900 percent won't be noticed by our residents." He insisted noise levels will increase in virtually every municipality in the county. The FAA is looking at the Airspace Redesign Project that involves airports in Philadelphia, New Jersey and New York, which is intended to reduce airport delays.

   The Airspace Redesign Project is one of four alternatives that the FAA is considering in order to reduce airport delays, according to FAA Public Affairs representative Arlene Murray. "The purpose of airspace redesign is not to reduce noise," Murray said. "Once a final alternative is chosen we can take a look at ways to seek noise mitigation." Comments were taken on the FAA Web site up until July 1, according to Murray. The FAA has received, "1,800 comments in public meetings that we held," Murray said. "Those will be considered in choosing the alternative."

   Representatives at the Philadelphia International Airport support the integrated airspace alternative. "It's a potential benefit ... in terms of delay reduction," said airport public relations manager Mark Pesce. "We support the airspace design." But airport officials do not have the final say.

   "We can comment on the redesign," Pesce said. But, he added, "it's strictly an FAA project." Businesses in the area see positive and negative effects of the airspace redesign. "The airport is critical to the business community in Delaware County," said Delaware County Chamber of Commerce executive vice-president Jeff Vermeulen. County officials insist they will remain engaged in the proceedings of the airspace redesign. "This is going to adversely affect over 400 people," Reilly said. "What we really need to do is get a citizens group together." He insists the county deserves more input into airport decisions. "Two-thirds of the airport lies in Delaware County," Reilly said. "I'm a bit insulted we don't get consulted."

Source - News of Delaware Co.