Archive for March, 2017

BTS Releases National Transportation Noise Map

Thursday, March 23rd, 2017

by Mary Ellen Eagan

Source: https://www.rita.dot.gov/bts/press_releases/bts015_17

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics’ (BTS) initial National Transportation Noise Map was released earlier this week.  It shows that more than 97 percent of the U.S. population has the potential to be exposed to noise from aviation and Interstate highways at levels above below 50 decibels (roughly comparable to the noise level of a humming refrigerator).  A much smaller segment of the U.S. resident population has the potential to be exposed to higher levels of aviation and Interstate highway noise. Less than one-tenth of a percent of the population could potentially experience noise levels of 80 decibels or more, equivalent to the noise level of a garbage disposal.

The purpose of the noise map is to facilitate the tracking of trends in transportation-related noise, by mode, and collectively for multiple transportation modes. The data allow viewing the national picture of potential exposure to aviation and highway noise. The data also allow viewing of the potential exposure at the state or county level.

The National Transportation Noise Map will be an addition to the National Transportation Atlas Database (NTAD), a set of nationwide geographic databases of transportation facilities, networks, and associated infrastructure available from the BTS Geospatial Data Catalog. The layers will be updated on an annual basis, and future versions of the National Transportation Noise Map are envisioned to include additional transportation noise sources, such as rail and maritime.

The BTS map contains aircraft and road noise inventory data provided as web map services (WMS) for use with Geographic Information Systems (GIS), computer programs that can store, analyze, and present spatial or geographic data.

The mapping was developed by the DOT’s Volpe Center, using data sources from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to create a comprehensive map of noise levels. The FAA’s Aviation Environmental Design Tool was used to model the average number of daily flight operations from airports across the country, excluding airports with exclusively military operations. To determine daily road noise data, algorithms from the FHWA’s Traffic Noise Model were used in conjunction with data from the Highway Performance Monitoring System to obtain the average daily noise levels for automobiles, medium trucks, and heavy trucks. The acoustics modeling used in developing these noise layers uses conservative, simplified methods, and only considers transportation noise (no other ambient noise sources). Documentation on the modeling assumptions is available at https://maps.bts.dot.gov/noise/. The noise data in the layers should be used for the purpose of tracking trends, not for assessing impacts. This data release represents the first year of data that can be used to analyze future trends.

My first month at HMMH

Monday, March 20th, 2017

by Katherine B. Preston

Now that I have been a member of the HMMH team for about a month and have everything figured out (if only), I decided it was time to write my first blog post.  First, let me say that I am very excited to be a part of this wonderful firm!  Having worked closely with Mary Ellen and Gene for years while at ACI-NA, I was not surprised to learn that the rest of my new colleagues at HMMH are equally as intelligent, passionate, welcoming and well-respected in their fields.  Most importantly they are a patient bunch, having gracefully fielded my many questions about time sheets, expense reports, project numbers, and where to find things located on the network.  Thankfully, I think I am starting to get the hang of it.

The past month has been quite the whirlwind, and included visits to the home office in Burlington and several airport clients, the Florida Airport Council’s State Summit, my first industry conference as a non-association staff, and a visit up to my old D.C. stomping grounds to attend FAA’s Environment and Energy REDAC meeting!  One of the most interesting experiences was attending the ACC/AAAE Airport Planning, Design & Construction Symposium in New Orleans, LA last month.  The conference brought together consultants and airport staff from a wide variety of disciplines, and I learned a lot about airport planning, how to write a great proposal, and the client interview pitfalls to avoid.  It was also great to catch up with old friends and colleagues and meet new ones.  I was proud to hand out my new HMMH business cards, and fortunately I brought plenty, because there were over 1000 people at the event!  I will also admit, it was really also nice to simply be an attendee at the conference so I could sit and listen to the panelists, rather than being responsible for planning the sessions.

Now that the dust of my first few weeks is (partially) settled, I am really looking forward to working with HMMH’s current clients, and helping to grow our practice.  For the past several years, I’ve been particularly interested in the exciting sustainability initiatives taking place across our industry, and only see this trend continuing.  Despite the current political climate and the rhetoric from Washington D.C. about rolling back ‘burdensome’ environmental regulations, I see an opportunity for us as an industry to demonstrate just how beneficial sustainability can be in terms of creating operational efficiencies, conserving resources, streamlining processes, positively engaging stakeholders, and of course saving money.  While some benefits are more easily quantifiable than others, I have never heard an airport say they regret incorporating sustainability into their organization.    I look forward to working with airports to help them maximize these benefits, whether by developing a comprehensive sustainability program or undertaking individual initiatives like a renewable energy project or greenhouse gas inventory.

The next few months will continue to be a learning experience for me personally as I transition from the association world to aviation consulting, and for the industry as a whole as we navigate a changing political and regulatory landscape. But I am fortunate to be learning from and working with the best here at HMMH!