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Jet noise and JFK work fuels Five Towns residents anger

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The ongoing construction work at John F. Kennedy International Airport has caused issues for a portion residents living in communities close to the airport.

Henry Beyer, a Woodmere resident for roughly the past 40 years, is one of those people. He wrote a Letter to the Editor on the problem. “When I first moved to Woodmere, I knew that living fairly close to JFK meant that there would be plane noise,” he wrote. “Everything has changed in the past three months, the incessant noise is unrelenting and has altered my quality of life.”

Beyer noted that the plane noise is the loudest from the hours of 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., which is a big issue for him. “At times, it sounds like the planes are landing on my roof,” he told the Herald. “I would be okay if it was happening in the daytime, but the noise at night is disruptive and wakes me up.”

The construction work at JFK that apparently has caused the aircraft noise increase was announced in October 2018. It includes the reconstruction and widening of runaways 13L and 31R. The work began on April 1 and is expected to be completed in November. The runways’ widths are being expanded from 150 to 200 feet, or 33 percent, to accommodate larger planes and the cost is expected to total $355 million, according to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The work results in more planes arriving and departing on the remaining open runaways.

The Port Authority conducted an impact study on the construction at runaways’ 13L and 31R with the Federal Aviation Administration. The FAA method of measuring airplane noise uses a metric called day-night average sound level, or DNL, which measures the total accumulation of noise measured over a 24-hour period. A 65-decibel DNL as the threshold for what the FAA considers “significant” noise. The study noted, “13,406 households and 39,038 people would be exposed to a 65-decibel DNL or higher due to the construction.” The study did not clarify how many households in Woodmere are exposed to a 65-decibel DNL.  

Larry Hoppenhauer is the executive director of the Town of Hempstead’s Town-Village Aircraft Safety & Noise Abatement Committee. The committee serves as a civilian watchdog agency that monitors airplane noise in the area. He noted the amount of increased airfare he thinks occurs at the other JFK runaways as result of the construction. “I’m expecting a 30 to 70 percent increase in air traffic at the other runaways from the construction,” Hoppenhauer said. “This has for sure impacted the neighborhoods surrounding JFK.”

TVASNAC has received several complaints from residents on the noise. “We’ve been getting complaints from everywhere in the Town of Hempstead,” he said. “Another main reason for the noise at night is because of the cargo planes. They make a lot of noise and fly lower in the sky.”

Hoppenhauer said that TVASNAC holds monthly meetings typically on the fourth Monday of the month. He also added that Port Authority and the FAA are welcome. “We always invite them to talk with the residents,” he said. “But the FAA never seems to want to show up.” Hoppenhauer noted that Port Authority usually responds to his requests for a subject matter expert to appear at TVASNAC meetings.

Noise complaints can be made to Port Authority by filling out a form online at: https://bit.ly/2w2bxYP.

Have an opinion on aircraft noise? Send your letter to the editor to jbessen@liherald.com.