By Craig P. Coy, CEO of the Massachusetts Port Authority
When you run an urban airport like Logan, surrounded on three sides by residential communities, being a good neighbor is as much a part of your mission as enabling economic growth.
Effective soundproofing is one of the important ways that Massport has responded to the enormous challenge to lighten the burden on Logan's neighbors. And as Americans prepare to celebrate Earth Day 2003 this month, Massport will proudly mark the 20th anniversary of a residential soundproofing program that has improved the quality of life for tens of thousands of people who live near the airport.
In 1983, Massport made East Boston High School the nation's first public school to be soundproofed under a newly-created federal grant program. Since then, we have spent nearly $116 million to retrofit 7,358 dwellings (including 3,642 homes) and 35 schools.
As important as the program is, soundproofing is only one of the ways Massport has responded to the challenges posed by operating a major international airport.
Boston's premier airport also has led the way on using alternative fuel vehicles to reduce emissions. Every one of the more than 60 shuttle buses that carry passengers to and from the terminals is powered by compressed natural gas, making the air around Logan easier to breathe.
With nighttime restrictions, we've been able to cut the number of flights that occur between the sensitive hours of 11 pm and 7 am to less than 10% of total airport operations.
Massport's Noise Abatement Office offers a 24-hour consumer service where Logan's neighbors can report excessive airport noise. Information is available by calling (617) 561-3333.
Logan was also one of the first airports in the country to install neighborhood noise monitoring systems, which are used to monitor flight tracks, enforce noise rules and evenly distribute air traffic fairly around the airport. This information helps the FAA ensure that planes obey all the rules at Logan Airport as they land and take-off.
Sensitive enough to sort out the sound of passing planes from the din of street traffic, these monitors helped Massport make another 500 homes around Logan eligible for government-funded soundproofing by convincing federal agencies of the existence of previously undocumented noise effects.
During my first few months, I repeatedly heard how residents wanted more information about the airport and its operations. Now they have it, with the Airport Monitor program launched last summer on Massport's website that provides detailed information about flights over Logan and the city.
The launching of Airport Monitor reflects Massport's sincere intention to honor Mayor Menino's strong desire to give the residents of the Boston area as much information as possible about airport operations and impacts.
Information is power, but it can also be a powerful force for building relationships and trust if it is shared openly, offered honestly, and presented truthfully.
That is why I am confident that by opening new lines of communication between Massport, the FAA, and the residents of Boston and surrounding communities we will help to bring Logan and its neighbors closer together.
With Airport Monitor, Massport will make sure that everyone in Boston and surrounding communities will be able to monitor airport operations daily - and by the hour, and by the minute.
Airport Monitor is an integral part of Massport's mission. As good citizens of this Commonwealth, we always strive to balance the needs of those who benefit from our facilities with those who shoulder the burdens. While we might not be able to eliminate the impacts of our facilities entirely, Earth Day provides an opportunity to restate our commitment to "do the right thing" by minimizing or mitigating whatever we cannot prevent.