Opinion: Commentary: About That Aircraft Noise…

Opinion: Commentary: About That Aircraft Noise…

As outgoing County Board liaison on aviation issues (along with colleague Libby Garvey, who will continue in that role), I want to take the opportunity to provide you with an interim update on our efforts to work in partnership with Montgomery County, Md. to address the impacts of noise from aircraft operations at Ronald Reagan National Airport (DCA).

As you know, earlier this year, as a result of the advocacy efforts of Board Member Garvey and myself, our colleagues on the Arlington County Board and our friends on the Montgomery County Council committed the necessary funding for an aircraft noise and airspace design study to identify tangible alternatives to reduce and mitigate the impacts of airplane noise on our residents. Over the course of the past several months, County staff from both jurisdictions have been hard at work to finalize a Request for Proposals (RFP) to move this important project forward.

Moving forward will require a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the counties that will outline the obligations and commitments of both parties in this joint effort. The MOU, which requires County Board approval, could come before the County Board in January. We would envision the Request for Proposals (RFP) being issued shortly thereafter, with a contract award towards the end of the first quarter of Calendar Year 2019. This will allow for the first phase of the project — thorough analysis of DCA noise and operations data to better understand the key drivers of the aircraft noise problem — to be completed by next summer. The second phase, the identification and thorough evaluation of various alternatives to reduce and mitigate noise, would follow shortly thereafter.

Finally, you may also be interested in reading the final report from the DCA Airplane Noise Assessment Project (the “Project”) undertaken by the District of Columbia and conducted by Freytag and Associates. A copy of the final report can be found [at https://doee.dc.gov/node/1217496]. In total, there are seven recommendations that were made by the Project to reduce noise impacts on DC residents. While some of these may result in noise reduction for all residents north of the airport, such as a balancing of north and south flow operations, others simply seek to shift noise from DC residents onto residents of Virginia or Maryland. We envision our study to build on and further refine some of these alternatives, but all with the goal of reducing noise impacts where possible and equitably sharing them where necessary.

Thank you again for your continued interest in and advocacy on this issue. We invite you to keep abreast of updates at: https://departments.arlingtonva.us/cmo/airport-noise.