County Airport Finalizes Noise Exposure Map

In anticipation of the F-35 fighter jets scheduled to arrive this year, the county airport has finished responding to public comments and finalized its Noise Exposure Map (NEM). This has been submitted to the FAA for approval. The next step is development of noise abatement measures for people living within the predicted 65-decibel noise contour. This was predicted to be 2,481 people.

Steve Klafka provides an analysis of the final map below. Here is a link to the study and accompanying documents.

Not surprising, the county airport made no changes to the predicted noise levels, predicted impacts, or noise exposure map in response to public comments. This study is being conducted by the book, even though the book is as old as the bible. The 65-decibel noise standard is 50 years old.

The final report and appendices are available on the county airport web site. Responses to public comments are provided in Appendix D-2. Disappointing there were only 21 public comments. Most of these were from Safe Skies.

The FAA is a tough agency for getting information. I still haven’t determined if there is a procedure to challenge the noise exposure map or file an environmental justice complaint.

Here is a summary of issues raised during the public comment period that will not be addressed by the county airport:

  • noise study public meetings will only be held at the airport, not online or in impacted neighborhoods;
  • noise impacts will only be predicted using the 50-year old FAA daily average standard of 65 decibels and not lower levels;
  • the greatest noise impacts will fall on the low-income and minority families who live next to the airport but environmental justice will not be considered;
  • the airport will not oppose the continued construction of low-income housing near the airport;
  • the noise study will not be expanded to evaluate impacts on the 60,000 people that live within 3 miles or the schools, community centers, nursing homes or day care centers within this area;
  • only the daily average noise levels will be predicted and evaluated, not the instantaneous peak levels we actually hear;
  • health effects of noise exposure will not be considered;
  • impacts on education at schools will not be considered;
  • impacts on children with emotional disabilities will not be considered;
  • medical expertise will not be used to evaluate noise impacts;
  • growth in violence due to loud noise will not be evaluated;
  • impacts on pets due to loud noise will not be evaluated;
  • vibration impacts on people and structures will not be evaluated;
  • reductions in property values will be not evaluated;
  • measurement of actual noise levels using noise monitors will not be conducted;
  • long-term complaints of Madison residents will not be evaluated;
  • complaints and impacts reported by Burlington, Vermont residents due to their F-35 fighter jets will not be evaluated;
  • selecting one of the other 44 available missions for the 115th fighter wing of the Wisconsin Air National Guard will be not be considered as a noise abatement option;
  • the Madison Common Council resolution opposing the F-35 fighter jets and the thousands of comments on the F-35 fighter jet deployment to Madison will not be considered.

final Dane Co Airport noise map with decibels