Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

TRB Releases HMMH-Authored NCHRP Report 791 – Supplemental Guidance on the Application of FHWA’s Traffic Noise Model (TNM)

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

by Christopher Menge

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Harris Miller Miller & Hanson Inc. (HMMH) is pleased to announce the release of TRB’s NCHRP Report 791 – Supplemental Guidance on the Application of FHWA’s Traffic Noise Model (TNM), the final product of NCHRP Project 25-34, led by HMMH and supported by a team of consultants.

Noise is an important environmental concern for highway planners and designers, and through 2010, state highway agencies have spent $5.4 billion to abate the noise generated by federally-aided highway projects. Transportation agencies assess different aspects of highway noise to determine or predict community impacts during transportation planning, although procedures have varied by program and agency. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)’s Transportation Noise Model (TNM) is a computer program used for predicting noise levels and their impacts in the vicinity of highways. The TNM was developed in the 1990’s by a team led by HMMH under contract to the FHWA. The FHWA has provided substantial guidance for the routine application of the TNM; however, scenarios still exist for which there remains limited or no technical guidance.

Under NCHRP Project 25-34, HMMH was asked to investigate sixteen different research topic areas to identify best practices and provide significant guidance on applying TNM to accurately, consistently, and efficiently model traffic-generated noise in a variety of settings that has not been previously addressed by TNM. The objective of NCHRP 25-34 was to supplement existing guidance on applying the TNM by identifying best practices to model structure reflected noise; bridge expansion joints; signalized interchanges; intersections; area sources (e.g., weigh stations, park and ride lots, toll facilities, and service plazas); median barriers; roundabouts; and tunnel openings. The research determines the sensitivity and accuracy of methods to model multi-lane highways, rows of buildings, topography, ground zones, and tree zones, and identifies best practices for input parameters. The research also synthesizes the state of practice for analyzing the effects of wind and temperature gradients on sound propagation.

The results of NCHRP Project 25-34 are intended for use by experienced analysts, modelers, and designers. Report 791 will be of immediate use to experienced users of TNM by helping them to improve the accuracy and precision of their modeling results and inform decision-making related to the design of noise abatement measures.

FAA Announces the Release of AEDT 2b

Thursday, September 11th, 2014

by Robert C. Mentzer Jr.

The FAA announced on September 8, 2014 that the Aviation Environmental Design Tool version 2b (AEDT 2b)a next generation noise and emission model designed for airports, will be released on May 29th, 2015.  The upcoming version is expected to replace the FAA’s INM and EDMS models which have been used separately for noise and emissions modeling for several decades.  AEDT 2b will combine these two models along with the latest airport and aircraft data to provide airports and consultants a tool to develop noise, emission, and fuel burn results.  One set of data inputs (airfield, aircraft operations, etc.) will allow the user to develop results for all three categories and for different phases of flight.  This will also result in the user being able to understand the consequences of various changes at an airport from one tool.  AEDT 2areleased in 2013 to replace NIRS, is currently available for regional and larger scale analysis such as air traffic redesign studies.

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.

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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