September 21, 2014
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Airport to sound insulate 440 homes over next 4 years

With the New Year, the Rhode Island Airport Corporation (RIAC) will start planning for the sound insulation of about 440 homes at roughly $50,000 each for what promises to pump more than $20 million into the local economy in the next four years.

“This could be a nice jobs program,” interim RIAC CEO Peter Frazier said last week. He said the homes are all within the 65-decibel airport noise contour as projected for an extension to the main runway. If the extension of the runway and the soundproofing program are completed on schedule, they both would be done by 2017.

This will be the airport’s first soundproofing program in at least eight years if not longer. While there have been houses within the noise contour eligible for soundproofing, and 629 houses have been insulated up until this point, in the past decade, RIAC has concentrated on its voluntary acquisition program of houses in the 70-decibel contour.

Continuation of noise insulation under a stepped up program to coincide with the runway extension was part of the agreement the City Council reached with RIAC. Under the agreement, the council wanted a timetable for the sound insulation and home acquisitions, as well as other provisions, in exchange for not contesting the runway extension.

Frazier said RIAC is in the process of retaining a firm that will coordinate the sound insulation program. The company will set a schedule for the work, seek bids for the job, work with homeowners and oversee the work to be done. He estimated about 100 homes would be done each year beginning as soon as this coming February.

The job usually includes replacement windows, insulated doors and the installation of central air conditioning.

Frazier said under Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) guidelines, homes within the 65dnl contour would first be evaluated to determine whether soundproofing is necessary. Some properties, he observed, may already be sufficiently insulated and may not benefit from additional work.

Ward 3 Councilwoman Camille Vella-Wilkinson is pleased with Frazier’s intent to get the program up and running with the New Year.

“I don’t want it like the last go around and to take 10 years,” she said.

Vella-Wilkinson has found it easy to work with Frazier. She said he’s “not as quick on the draw to say no” to suggestions she and others make.

“He’s giving us the information … he’s looking to build bridges.”

Frazier said homes would be done in logical clusters. The only way he could see where fewer than all the homes within the contour are sound insulated, is if the program were eliminated.

Sound insulation is part of a $30 million FAA grant announced earlier this year by Senator Jack Reed. The funds are to be matched with RIAC funds on a basis of 20 percent RIAC funding and in addition to sound insulation will be used for the voluntary home acquisition program.

In mid September, Reed announced a $5 million FAA grant for the acquisition of homes under the voluntary program.


Comments
2 comments on this item

HMMMM, in stead of sound proofing houses that are going to be torn down anyways....... why not start buying these houses up at a faster pace ???? Why is the voluntary home acquisition program going to take place after the expansion has been completed ??? does that make sense to you? The more sesonable thing to do, and the more humane thing to do is to start twith the mandatory than voluntary home acquisition program and finish that up by 2017. I read an article here in the beacon that says the voluntary home acquisition program may take 15 years or more. That is a very long time needless to say.

It is time to start making the people that have put up with the airports nonsense a priority.

Now is the time to buy them up !! Fair market house values are not as high. You wait 15 years and they may go back up to 2006 prices. At least with the record low interest rates home owners can withstand that loss because on the flip side houses are not as expensive and interest rates are historic.

I wish the politicians who approved this would follow up with RIAC with getting the voluntary home acquisition program completed as quickly as possible. This sound proofing is just a waste of money and non sense. Note the article says some houses already have been sound proofed so this to me sounds like a cover up story to appease people longer.

Time to get real about RIAC and this project. To do it correclty they need to be mailing people letters of offers. That way there people know what to expect, RIAC will know who is going to sell and who is not. Because not everyone wants to move. Those who stay can have their houses sound proofed further.

That $30 million could buy so many more homes at a faster rate instead of making the people wait up to 15 years !!! In fact, it may cover almost all over the homes to be bought under the voluntary program.

So what happens to the extra money for homes that already have the sound proofing? What happens to the extra money when $30 million is needed for that project? Are the houses that will be sound proofed going to be torn down a few years from now?

Mr. Sapatoni; You are actually making partial sense, and I partially agree with you, which is scary. However, I believe part of the reason for the protracted time table is the same reason projects like the i-Way, the 6-10 viaduct project, etc.take so long is they are dependent on Federal money, where the State gets an allocation once a year. As you know, the project cost on such items is only partially funded by the State. We used a portion of our federal highway allocation over the life of the i-Way project while others were put on the back burner. Face facts, RIAC is in financial trouble now with increasing costs, capital projects, etc. while the passenger traffic has been in an almost straight line free fall for 6 years. Watch the bonds. It is counter intuitive to spend money on homes that ultimately will be razed, or found to be uninhabitable and sold privately or bought for 60 cents on the dollar. Typical RI, fire, aim, ready.

It takes a long time when you don't have the dough, or put another way, a deal is not a deal when you can't afford it.

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