Free Cash Could Pave Way for Independent Logan Noise Study

The City Council’s long-stated desire for an independent noise study of air traffic from Logan Airport could soon be a reality.

City Manager Thomas Ambrosino is proposing the council approve using $147,000 in recently certified free cash for a Georgia firm to perform an independent noise study.

“Prior to Covid, and at the specific request of the City Council, the city was seeking an independent study of Logan Airport noise and its impact on Chelsea,” said Ambrosino. “The goal was to have an objective study conducted by experts that could help the city in its future mitigation discussions with Massport.”

Ambrosino stated it was difficult to find a consultant to perform the study, especially locally, because they either have a contract with Massport or don’t want to make adverse statements about them.

The firm from Georgia, abcx2, agreed to the study before Covid, but Ambrosino said he delayed bringing the plan forward because air traffic declined during the pandemic.

The study will include an historical analysis of noise at Logan Airport and a one-month full analysis of all plane traffic over Chelsea that will be tweaked in preparation for a full-year study of plane traffic.

District 8 Councilor Calvin Brown asked if the result of the study will make Massport more willing to help Chelsea when it comes to noise mitigation efforts.

“No,” said Ambrosino. “But at least we’ll be able to say, hey, we did the analysis and your numbers as we know them aren’t right, here’s what our numbers show. They’ll say ‘you did it wrong, your experts don’t know what they are doing, we’re the experts,’ and that’s where we will be, but at least we will have something where right now we have nothing.”

Ambrosino said there are two major mitigation concessions the city is looking to get from Massport, an increase in the yearly mitigation payments to the city and funds for a new waterfront park.

“They have been paying the city $600,000 for 20 years, it hasn’t increased a penny despite inflation,” Ambrosino said. He also noted that Massport donated money for a waterfront park for East Boston.

While the city manager said it would be difficult to wrangle concessions from Massport, having the study completed would give the city more ammunition.

Council President Roy Avellaneda said he was glad Ambrosino was pushing forward for a noise study. He said the increase in plane traffic and noise has been an issue for decades.

Avellaneda said when he attended Massport meetings on airport expansion before the pandemic, Massport officials claimed that although there would be increased flights, the mitigation zone for Chelsea would shrink because the current planes are quieter than in the past.

“Some houses that qualified for sound mitigation in Chelsea were not any longer,” said Avellaneda. “How can you tell me there is an increase in the number of flights by 25 percent, yet telling me that fewer homes in Chelsea qualify? That’s gibberish.”

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