By Gina Martinez
Queens representatives are optimistic following new provisions in the $1.3 trillion congressional spending bill that will update an outdated metric used to measure aircraft noise.
Members of the Congressional Quiet Skies Caucus, a group of House members raising awareness and finding solutions to aircraft noise, announced that they had secured a provision in the newly enacted omnibus spending bill, directing the Federal Aviation Administration to find new methods of measuring aircraft noise in an effort to reduce the impact of excessive airplane and helicopter noise over their Queens and Long Island districts.
The Omnibus Appropriations Bill was signed into law March 23.
Queens caucus members include U.S. Reps. Grace Meng (D-Flushing), Tom Suozzi (D-Little Neck), Joe Crowley (D-Jackson Heights) and Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica), among others.
The FAA currently uses the Day-Night Average Sound Level 65 metric, the national standard at which the agency determines acceptable levels of aircraft noise. The provision will allow the administration to evaluate other methods to address community airplane noise concerns and will encourage the FAA to make these recommendations based on actual noise levels. Caucus members said the current measure of the impact of noise relies heavily on modeling and simulations to determine “annoyance” levels of aircraft noise over communities, but rarely takes into account actual noise on the ground.
Meng, whose district is directly under the LaGuardia Airport flight path, said the metric of 65 DNL has long been outdated and does not adequately measure the true impact of aircraft noise.
“That is why it’s time to for the FAA to re-evaluate it,” she said. “The blistering sounds of airplane noise in Queens continues to negatively impact the quality of life of borough residents, and looking at a more accurate measurement of noise effects would go a long way towards creating quieter skies over our communities. I look forward to seeing what other metrics the FAA proposes.”
Suozzi, co-chair of the Quiet Skies Caucus, said Queens and Long Island residents deserve to live in peace and quiet and this new provision will require the FAA to take important steps in addressing noise reduction so people are not bombarded at all hours of the day and night.
Crowley, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, argued that the issue is not just about noise pollution but about residents’ long-term health.
“I’m deeply concerned about the long-term impact noise pollution has on the health and well-being of my neighbors in Queens and the Bronx,” he said. “Our communities have been burdened with a barrage of noise from airplanes and helicopters because of our proximity to two major airports, and this provision will help us better understand and curb the impact of noise pollution. It is important that the FAA realize the serious effects that noise pollution has on our communities and take further steps to reduce these inconveniences.”
Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmart