Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Speed Networking in DC

Thursday, February 20th, 2014

by Ruth Anne Mazur

I recently attended a DC Chapter Young Professionals in Transportation (YPT) event that introduced me to something new.  In honor of Valentine’s Day, the group held a mock speed-dating event that was instead focused on speed-networking (#HighSpeedNetworking).  As someone who has never been speed-dating, I was a bit skeptical about how much fun it might be to meet people in this setting.  I thought it might be difficult for a group of engineers and transportation professionals to make short conversation with a few rounds of new people, and so were the event organizers.  At the beginning of the event, everyone enjoyed a joke regarding how long we should make the time interval and how we would “see how awkward the silence was after 2 minutes”.  I was part of the group that stayed seated, which was more comfortable in some ways, but did not allow me to move around to other tables with different appetizer plates. As the speed-networking got started, I was excited to see who I would get to talk to and how the event would flow.  What we found was that there was no awkward silence at all, and the interval was moved to 3 and then 4 minutes, with even that amount of time seeming to fly by.  Not only was it easy to make small chit-chat with everyone, but it was also great to learn more about each person and their type of work in the transportation world. In the end, I think everyone agreed this type of event was great for networking and gave us all the opportunity to get to know members of the organization better.  The purpose of the event was to talk to new people and find out what they were about, and this made it very natural (and fun) to meet more people in one night than one might at a typical networking event.  I believe this idea originated in the San Francisco chapter of YPT, and Kim Lucas, the YPT DC Vice Chair of Programs, brought it to DC with flair.

Thanks to Kim and YPT for holding such a unique and enjoyable event for transportation professionals in DC!

Centennial Airport Update

Thursday, October 31st, 2013

by Gene Reindel

The following link provides a well-written article featuring the installation progress of the noise monitoring system at Centennial Airport in Arapahoe County Colorado.  The progress is visible to the surrounding communities as 12 fixed noise monitors, installed to measure noise from aircraft operations, and is up and running.  The system installation is continuing over the next few months with full acceptance of the system expected in early 2014.  The purpose of the system is to provide much needed data to monitor the Centennial Airport aircraft noise environment and prepare highly accurate reports and noise exposure contours related to the aircraft operations at Centennial Airport.



Founder’s Award

Monday, October 28th, 2013

by Nick Miller

At last week’s HMMH Annual Stockholder Meeting, the Founders of HMMH presented their award for excellence “In recognition of outstanding performance on a project that was uniquely challenging, technically innovative, and resulted in proven client satisfaction.”  The award was given to the project “On-Board Sound Intensity Measurements to Evaluate the Noise Reduction of Pavement Grinding, I-195, Providence RI.”  The Project Manager was J. Eric Cox, Principal in Charge was Christopher W. Menge, and the team included James E. Ferguson III, and Ryan Cranfill.

From left: Carl Hanson, Chris Menge, J. Eric Cox, Nick Miller

From left: Carl Hanson, Chris Menge, J. Eric Cox, Nick Miller












The purpose of the project was to prove that adequate sound reduction of I-195 road noise had been achieved by diamond grinding of the concrete bridge deck, mainline roadway, and on/off/interchange ramp surfaces. Grinding operations were conducted to reduce noise generated by traffic traveling over transverse tining. The “OBSI” measurements had to be made on 19 ramps and roadway sections, in the wee morning hours when little other traffic was using the roadways.  Client David Freeman of Maguire Group, Providence, RI said that “it worked out really well and the results [of the measurements] were used to justify a bonus to the contractor.”

More information on OBSI can  be found on HMMH’s website:

A “perfect storm” – Recent actions by all three branches of the federal government address more types of aircraft noise, and acknowledge that adverse effects extend beyond traditional noise contours.

Thursday, July 18th, 2013

by Ted Baldwin

Serious federal attention to aircraft noise began around 1960, largely in response to community concerns (okay, complaints) related to the introduction of early air carrier jets (“airliners”), in particular the Boeing 707 and Douglas DC-8.

For the past half century, the federal government has largely focused its attention on aircraft noise associated with succeeding generations of airline jets at commercial service airports.  General aviation (g.a.) airports, g.a. jets, propeller aircraft, and helicopters have been a secondary focus of attention to all branches of the federal government, as illustrated by the following examples:

  • Legislative branch:  Congress has focused on laws phasing out older noisier aircraft over 75,000 pounds, which largely represent air carrier jets.
  • Executive branch:  The FAA’s development of the Integrated Noise Model (INM) has largely focused on modeling air carrier jets, as exemplified by the database’s most extensive coverage for that category of aircraft, with increasing dependence on substitute modeling surrogates as aircraft weight decreases.
  • Judicial branch:  Legal decisions have largely accepted arguments that significant noise exposure and associated liability extend only to the 65 decibel (dB) Day-Night Average Sound Level (DNL) contour, on which g.a. aircraft and helicopters have relatively little effect;  typically the 65 DNL contour from these aircraft alone encompass little – if any – off-airport land.

To build on the “ocean” metaphor in the title of this posting, the airline jet noise “tide” is ebbing, largely as the result of federal legislation and FAA regulations that force the retirement of 14 C.F. R. Part 36 Stage 1 and 2 jets over 75,000 pounds, and require applications for new “type certification” to meet Stage 4 requirements.  Local noise abatement and land use compatibility programs have complemented these federal actions (and frequently benefited from federal funding and implementation support).

One potential federal response might be to declare “mission accomplished” on the noise front, and turn the focus to areas where the tide is rising – both literally and figuratively; e.g., emissions-related contributions to climate change, which appear to be associated with storms that threaten coastal airports and result in operational delays at airports at all elevations.

However, recent actions show that the federal government is taking a different approach, and turning its focus to previously neglected – or at least lower-profile – noise issues associated with g.a. airports, g.a., jets, and even helicopters.  Again, this “changing tide” is reflected across the board at the federal level:

  • Legislative branch:  In the “FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012,” Congress prohibited, after December 31, 2015, regular operation in the contiguous 48 states of civil aircraft weighing 75,000 pounds or less that do not meet Stage 3 noise levels.  See
  • Executive branch:  As summarized in its “Aviation Noise Impacts Research Roadmap,” the FAA is supporting a number of initiatives recognizing a broader range of noise issues, such as the accuracy of the INM for modeling g.a. aircraft and enhanced modeling of taxiway noise.
  • Executive Branch:  In a more applied case, the FAA adopted a final rule on July 6, 2012 that requires helicopter pilots to use the North Shore Helicopter Route when operating along the north shore of Long Island, New York.  The purpose of the rule is to “protect and enhance public welfare by maximizing utilization of the existing route flown by helicopter traffic one mile off the north shore of Long Island and thereby reducing helicopter overflights and attendant noise disturbance over nearby communities.”  (see
  • Judicial branch:  In a recent opinion that denied a petition by the Helicopter Association International (HAI) for judicial review of the preceding mandatory helicopter route, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit supported the other executive branches in their focus on lower levels of noise exposure related to operations by non-airline aircraft.  (see$file/12-1335-1446255.pdf)

It should be noted that the Long Island helicopter route rule addressed in the preceding two bullets was initiated by two federal legislators representing Long Island residents – Senator Charles Schumer and Representative Tim Bishop – who conducted a meeting in October 2007 with the FAA, local helicopter operators, and airport proprietors to specifically address noise complaints stemming from helicopter operations along the north shore of Long Island.  While only the executive and judicial branches took formal action, the process involved significant input by these legislators as well.

The mandatory helicopter route is particularly significant because it represents divergence from several prior federal positions related to the longstanding “line in the sand” that the federal government has drawn at the 65 decibel (dB) Day-Night Average Sound Level (DNL) contour: 

  • First, it reflects major divergence from the prior federal position that reduction of sensitive land uses exposed to noise above 65 dB DNL was a de facto prerequisite for approval and support of noise abatement or compatible land use actions.  In its brief responding to the HAI petition, the FAA acknowledged that the route would not produce any benefit at or above this level of exposure, and noted that it “has authority to act without first demonstrating that a specific noise level has been exceeded.”  Furthermore, the FAA brief cited the “Long Island North Shore Helicopter Route Environmental Study,” which it had tasked the John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center to conduct.  That study concluded that prior to the adoption of the mandatory route, no residential population along the route was exposed to noise above 45 dB DNL, even on busy holiday weekends (e.g., around Memorial Day and July 4th, 2011).
  • Second, it reflected the first time – of which this author is aware – that the FAA relied on complaints as a fully sufficient basis for adoption of a formal noise abatement procedure.  In perhaps its most blunt statement regarding complaints, the FAA brief responding to the HAI petition stated “[w]hen people take the time to complain about helicopter noise to the FAA and their elected officials, there is a noise problem.”

The FAA’s justification for and defense of adopting a mandatory noise abatement rule based on noise complaints and with open acknowledgement that the benefit outside the 65 dB DNL contour by a 20dB margin is an extraordinary divergence from decades of FAA policy and decisions regarding noise compatibility actions.  As just one example, readers may recall that in its determination that the Naples (FL) Airport Authority (NAA) adoption of a ban on Stage 2 operations “was unreasonable and unjustly discriminatory” and therefore in violation of federal law, in part because the “NAA’s use of complaints … does not support a finding that the Stage 2 ban is reasonable.”  (”Director’s Determination,” FAA Docket No. 16-01-15, March 10, 2003.)

These recent actions by all three branches of the federal government clearly acknowledge that aircraft noise impacts worthy of addressing in the most formal manner need not be justified by federal land use compatibility guidelines, are not limited to particularly noisy aircraft, and do not even require quantification in decibel-based terms.

While the applicability of these actions as precedents in addressing other noise concerns across the U.S. will undoubtedly be the topic of vigorous debate for some time, airport noise stakeholders – including aircraft operators, pilots, airport proprietors, state and local government land use jurisdictions, airport neighbors, and others – should follow the federal lead in taking a fresh look at creative bases for demonstrating benefits and considering – or reconsidering – the full spectrum of noise abatement and compatible land use measures that might be applied to aircraft noise sources of local concern. 

CapeFlyer Takes Off

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

by Dave Towers

No, this does not refer to Superman or any type of aircraft.  CapeFLYER is the new rail service between Boston and Hyannis, MA which began operating on Memorial Day weekend.  This service was introduced by the Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority (CCRTA), in coordination with MassDOT and the MBTA, to create a car-free vacation as well as better multi-modal connections and to contribute to the “greening” of the state transportation system.  The train is scheduled to operate on weekends over the summer between Boston South Station and the Hyannis Transportation Center, making stops in Braintree, Middleborough and Buzzards Bay.



Hyannis Transportation Center

Hyannis Transportation Center

I decided to give CapeFLYER a try for a day trip on Sunday during the inaugural weekend, along with my wife and another couple.  There was little traffic during our early morning drive into Boston, and parking was available and reasonable ($8 for the day) at South Station.  We boarded the train and it departed promptly at 8:00 AM, reaching Hyannis at 10:30 AM – about 10 minutes late.  The ride was relaxing and relatively smooth, and no one seemed concerned about the schedule.  Up to Middleborough, the train runs on the newer MBTA Old Colony commuter line track and travels at a decent speed.  Between Middleborough and Hyannis, however, the rails are jointed and the speed limit is 30 mph. There are plans to upgrade the track which would shorten the trip.

Once in Hyannis, we had eight hours to spend before our return and easily filled the time by strolling along Main Street, checking out the shops and having a leisurely lunch. We also tried the free trolley bus which circulates around Hyannis and is a nice way to see the town. The driver even stopped so we could get coffee and a muffin at Dunkin Donuts – the coffee in the cafe car on the train left much to be desired and the food selection was limited.  On a warmer and sunnier day, we might have taken a ferry to Martha’s Vineyard or Nantucket.  In addition, there are bus connections to other areas of Cape Cod and you can also bring your bicycle with you on the train to explore the Cape.

On the return trip, the CapeFLYER left Hyannis promptly at 6:30 PM.  The highlight of this part of the journey was getting the opportunity to have an extended conversation with former Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis, who boarded the train in Buzzards Bay on the way back to Boston.  He was traveling with his wife Kitty and a grandson (who loves trains as much as his grandfather).  The Governor, who is a long-time staunch supporter of public transportation, was pleased with the ridership and has high hopes for the train service this time around (it didn’t last very long when it was previously introduced in the 1980’s).  He noted that there was a five-mile traffic backup going towards the Cape when he took the inaugural train down the Friday before.

The train returned to Boston South Station at 9:05 PM, about 20 minutes late after a delay waiting for the railroad drawbridge over the Cape Cod Canal to lower – again, no one on board seemed to mind.  Being at South Station, we were easily able to have a late dinner in nearby Chinatown before returning home.  All in all, it was a very pleasant day and we expect to make the trip again.  Hopefully there will be sufficient demand and funding to allow the CapeFLYER to continue running for a long time to come, and perhaps even to allow for expanded service somewhere down the road – I mean track!