Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

TRB Releases HMMH-Authored Report on Aircraft Noise Annoyance and Sleep Disturbance

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

HMMH is pleased announce the release of the Transportation Research Board (TRB)’s Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) Report 17: Research Methods for Understanding Aircraft Noise Annoyances and Sleep Disturbance. HMMH led a research team to develop and validate a research protocol for a large-scale study of aircraft noise exposure-annoyance response relationships across the US, and to propose alternative research methods for field studies to assess the relationship between aircraft noise and sleep disturbance for U.S. airports.

The first phase of this ACRP Study included the collection of data for the purpose of testing an aircraft noise annoyance survey, for use in a national study, to update the dose-response relationship between noise exposure and the percentage of people who are highly annoyed. The second phase, the sleep disturbance portion of the ACRP Study, included:

  1. Developing at least two general research protocols to improve the understanding of the relationship between aircraft noise and sleep disturbance in a field setting; and
  2. Identifying criteria to be used to test and evaluate the protocols.

The report describes the annoyance survey methodology that was developed and applied and the results relevant to the goals of the study. It also discusses airport-community relations and presents the final sleep disturbance study designs and budget estimates for each type of study.

This project validated the approach that will be used in the surveys that FAA will conduct at 20 airports, with HMMH-led assistance.  The HMMH team currently is working with the FAA to refine the survey methods based on the results of the Study and to develop an appropriate statistical process for randomly selecting the 20 representative airports.

acrp_webdoc_017_cover_500

TBT: 10 Years as President!

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

by Mary Ellen Eagan

I was desperately looking for photos for our TBT post today, and stumbled across these – which reminded me that I have been President of HMMH now for 10 years! (The official anniversary is July 1, but since we’re at the final stages of our fiscal year, I’m calling it close enough.)

Here’s the official transfer from Nick to me (with Bob looking on):

Mary Ellen Eagan, Nick Miller, June 2004

Mary Ellen Eagan, Nick Miller, June 2004

And presentation of the ‘HMMH Box of Presidents’ Wisdom’, which includes plaques with the following quotes:

Nick Miller

Nick Miller

“Life is either an adventure or nothing at all.” – Helen Keller (by Andy Harris, HMMH Founder and President 1981-1989) and

“Quality is the perfect balancing of the qualitative and the quantitative, of the feeling and the thinking sides of our nature, of humanism and logic. Strive for that balance – do not be driven by one side alone.” – Nick Miller, HMMH Founder and President, 1989-2004

I also found “The Speech” I gave that day, and find that much of it still rings true: HMMH’s vision and values drive my decision-making; I still rely heavily on my “Personal Board of Directors” (who were present that day and are still close friends and mentors); and my life is still about constant triage – only now the kids are older and the balance is even more difficult (and they’re lecturing me to “engage, Mummy”). It has been an interesting decade, full of ups and downs – the excitement of winning big projects; a new DC office; the pleasure of making new long-time friendships – and the sadness of losing some; managing through the worst recession in the history of the US; and the challenge of dealing with all the big and small dramas we face daily. It hasn’t always been a pleasure – and I now have a lot of gray hair – but I can’t imagine having spent the last ten years in any more rewarding way.

Bob Miller, Nick Miller, Carl Hanson

Bob Miller, Nick Miller, Carl Hanson

David Senzig, Gene Reindel, Andy Harris, Kate Culhane, Chris Rossano, Dick Horonjeff, Mary Ellen Eagan, Molly Senzig, Phil Abbot, Cathy Abbot, Betty Desrosiers

David Senzig, Gene Reindel, Andy Harris, Kate Culhane, Chris Rossano, Dick Horonjeff, Mary Ellen Eagan, Molly Senzig, Phil Abbot, Cathy Abbot, Betty Desrosiers

Mary Ellen, Betty Desrosiers (holding Greta), Liz Levin

Mary Ellen, Betty Desrosiers (holding Greta), Liz Levin

 

TBT: Boston’s Southwest Corridor

Thursday, June 19th, 2014

By Mary Ellen Eagan

I’m at an FAA training session on FAA Order 1050.1F, Policies and Procedures for Considering Environmental Impacts (currently in draft). In preparation, I did a google-walkabout on the Environmental Policy Act, and eventually found my way to this photo, which was a fixture of my childhood (not the photo, the graffiti):

Roxbury, MA, 1969

Here’s a bit of backstory on the “People Before Highways” movement of the late 1960s, which (according to this History of the Inner Belt and even Wikipedia) added additional public pressure to President Nixon to enact NEPA in 1969.

The Inner Belt was a proposed interstate highway that was an 8-lane expressway that would have begun at Route I-93 in Somerville and circled through Cambridge near Central Square, crossed the Charles River near the BU Bridge, touched a portion of Brookline, crossed the Fenway and passed the Museum of Fine Arts, moved on through the Roxbury section of Boston to connect to the Southeast Expressway at the point where it joins the Central Artery heading toward downtown Boston. The Inner Belt and Central Artery thus would have joined to create a ring road around and through the inner Boston area, with major intersections along it: at a proposed extension of Route 2 from Alewife, at the Turnpike in Allston, at a proposed Southwest Expressway (I-95 South) originating in Dedham, at the Southeast Expressway, at a new tunnel under Boston Harbor (I-95 North).

Opposition to the Southwest Expressway originated with environmentalists in the outer suburbs and neighborhood activists in the inner city. A group of city planners, community activists, universities, and politicians formed a coalition that by 1969 had become a region-wide alliance that included groups and officials from Brookline, Cambridge, Dedham, Lynn, Milton, Needham, Revere, Saugus, Somerville and Boston’s East Boston, South Boston, Roxbury, Jamaica Plain, Hyde Park, and the South End.

The proposed interchange between I-95 and the planned Inner Belt.  Source: Cambridge Historical Society

The proposed interchange between I-95 and the planned Inner Belt.
Source: Cambridge Historical Society

As a seven-year-old, I remember my mother dragging me to these protests during the summer of 1969.   I’m guessing I was promised a popsicle if I didn’t whine too much – and probably had to wrangle my three younger siblings for full payment. All I really remember is lots of people and hot sidewalks, though I do recall that it was a big deal when Governor Sargent “stopped” the project.

How ironic that 45 years later, most of my career would have been dedicated to implementing the basic tenets set forth in the NEPA preamble:

“To declare a national policy which will encourage productive and enjoyable harmony between man and his environment; to promote efforts which will prevent or eliminate damage to the environment and biosphere and stimulate the health and welfare of man; to enrich the understanding of the ecological systems and natural resources important to the Nation; and to establish a Council on Environmental Quality.”

[National Environmental Policy Act, 1969]

I often wonder if the multi-million dollar studies now conducted in “accordance with NEPA” are really what folks like my mother had in mind when they were looking for a little more transparency in the process (though I’ll bet you they didn’t use those words. Just sayin’.)

The happy ending (in case you were unaware): I-95 was stopped (though there’s still a ramp to nowhere in Somerville), the MBTA’s Orange Line has brought incredible development to an otherwise neglected part of the city – including a lovely linear Southwest Corridor Park and expansion of Northeastern University. And eventually the Big Dig addressed some of the traffic problems. But that’s a story for another day.

The “Ramp to Nowhere” off I-93 in Somerville

The “Ramp to Nowhere” off I-93 in Somerville

ICBEN 2014

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

by Nick Miller

I attended the recent (June 2014) conference held by the International Commission on Biological Effects of Noise (ICBEN) in Nara Japan. The presentations were all about the possible bad effects of noise on humans. Overall, it’s a confabulation of people who are engaged in rigorous scientific exploration of how noise might produce ill effects, and by and large everyone is quite circumspect about any tentative conclusions suggested by their work. But let the press get ahold of the summary information, and you can get headlines like: “Is the noise of modern life making you ill? It can trigger heart disease, blood pressure and weight gain – even when you’re asleep.”

But researchers on the same team can come to different opinions such as: “Yes noise probably does cause heart problems,” and “No, noise probably doesn’t cause heart problems.”

So what gives? What gives in my opinion is that research results usually show just slight probabilities of adverse effect, and I’m inclined to think personal leanings (some might say prejudices) influence the interpretations of results. I’m not saying that there’s anything political or ideological here, only that different people draw different conclusions from the same results. I think, and I believe I read this somewhere – probably something David Brooks wrote (how’s that for a reference?) – that people make their decisions emotionally and then look for supporting evidence.

Reflect for a minute on some of your strongly held opinions and dig deeply to see if there really is any logical basis for them. As far as the effects of noise are concerned, I’ve detected two basic prejudices at work: “Noise is guilty and you have to prove it’s not.” “Noise is innocent until proven guilty.” Which is yours?

Nara, Japan

Nara, Japan

Around conference area

Around conference area

Nara, Japan

Nara, Japan

TBT: Happy Father’s Day!

Thursday, June 12th, 2014

by Mary Ellen Eagan

I’m pretty passionate about women in the workplace, the glass ceiling, work-life balance, and all that. This week, though, I’d like to give a shout out to all the HMMH Dads out there, who often don’t get enough credit for all the juggling they do as well. In fact, my best hope for a more balanced workplace in the future is that this generation of parents is truly co-parenting – dads are taking family leave, dealing with day care and all the other appointments that come along with small kids, etc. It can only be good news for us – and our kids!

Rosalie, 2006 [Dad Brad]

Rosalie, 2006 [Dad Brad]

Jonah, 2008 [Dad Brad]

Jonah, 2008 [Dad Brad]

Maeve, 2010 [Dad Brad]

Maeve, 2010 [Dad Brad]

Owen, 2009 [Dad Jason]

Owen, 2009 [Dad Jason]

Tyler, 2010 [Dad Jason]

Tyler, 2010 [Dad Jason]

Arden, 2011 [Dad Sean]

Arden, 2011 [Dad Sean]

Molly, David, Greta, 2013

Molly, David, Greta, 2013

And finally, a shout out to David, who is always there for my kids (and me!) – including dancing with them in the Nutcracker!