Sound Down Around Tweed

Allan Appel PhotoIf Kim Makres’s tidy beige ranch house were any closer to Tweed New Haven Airport, it would almost be on the runway.

Close as it is, it picks up 97 percent less noise than it used too from the planes landing and taking off perhaps 75 yards away. As for the cars racing by on Burr Street to catch those planes, she doesn’t hear a single engine revolution or the slap of a tire.

That’s because her house, at the corner of Burr and Dean Streets in Morris Cove and adjacent to the airport, is one of 34 homes recently insulated as part of the airport’s “Good Neighbor” program.

At a Monday afternoon press conference convened at Makres’s home, Makres and city and airport authority officials celebrated her combination of all new windows, storm doors, new central air, and a fresh air system. Combined with copious amounts of blown-in insulation, the insulation, she said, has now made her and her husband Tim blissfully unaware of the takeoff of the 6 a.m. American flight to Philadelphia.

“The noise, the fumes, you know it [that it will be there] when you buy, but you don’t know how loud and how low the planes fly until you move in,” said Makres, who herself flies a lot, out of Tweed, for her job with a company that relocates people all over the world.

Makres said she is eager for the airport to add more carriers and more destinations; Florida tops her list.

That was music to the ears of Tweed Executive Director Tim Larson’s ears.

The insulation work is funded 90 percent by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), with the state pitching in 7.5 percent and the city 2.5 percent. Insulation work and materials combined cost between $35,000 and $45,000 at each of the ten houses in the initial pilot and then 12 in the official phase one, according to Brackston Poitier, the project coordinator at Hamden-based Tri-Con, a minority and veteran-owned company that has been the general supervising contractor.

Makres and her husband, who is a construction guy, praised the quality of the work, which was done in two days shortly after Memorial Day. It consisted of replacing her single and double pane windows with powerful triple-pane windows, and adding blown in insulation to reduce noise to federally approved levels.

The central air conditioning replacing the window air conditioners — as well as a fresh air system — were added because the blown-in insulation and now tight windows in a sense vacuum-seal the house, explained Larson.

The pilot project began three years ago, with several public meetings, to enlist local homeowners closest to the airport as participants.

Larson explained that homes like Makreses’ and those, from a decibel perspective, even closer to the airport on Burr Street at Ley and Girard, qualified if they were within areas on a contour map showing noise penetration from the runway out to 65 decibels.

If you are sound-wise hardest hit, with 70 decibels, you qualify for either for the insulation program or for the airport to buy your home. If you are in the next countour ring, receiving 65 decibels of noise, as was the Makres house, you are eligible for the insulation program, which is free to the homeowner

In total 184 homes are eligible, with eight within the 70 decibel area, said Larson. The news announced at the Monday presser is that the FAA has awarded Tweed an additional $2.9 million to insulate 50 more of the 184 qualifying homes, where work will begin this spring, said Poitier.

Mayor Toni Harp said it is significant that the FAA is investing in New Haven, as she is all for the airport adding new carriers and new routes.

“We’re meeting some of the concerns neighbors have about noise. To the degree we can take care of that, that support will be there” when the airport expands service, she said.

Makres said she can’t wait to fly to some place other than Philadelphia. The mayor said she has her eye on Chicago.

Long the subject of contentious debate in both New Haven and East Haven, expanding the runway from its current 5,600 square feet to about 6,000, the requirement to attract more commercial jets, is very much in the near future, said Larson.

Florida, Washington, D.C., and Chicago are the top three destinations on Larson’s list, comprising service that “will support New Haven’s economy,” Larson claimed. He estimated that if approvals are forthcoming, expanding what have been termed the safety zones at both ends of the runway, to make the required additional length, could be in the works within two years.

Larson praised Harp for urging him to launch the home insulation program and attending to the concerns of neighbors. The houses participating in the pilot and first phase have been spread equally between New Haven and East Haven.

Larson predicted more homes in the eligible 184 beyond the next 50 slated for work will be able to participate, if more federal funding is available and if the owners—in some cases absentee landlords—learn of the program’s availability.

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posted by: anonymous on August 7, 2017  4:50pm

The PHL equipment is getting very outdated and I wouldn’t be surprised if commercial flights disappear entirely in the next few years if the runway isn’t expanded slightly.  This would be bad for local employers, and would lead to more private jets landing, which are much noisier.

It would be helpful to have just one or two real commercial flights to a major hub airport other than PHL (especially Chicago, Detroit, DCA, BWI, or Atlanta), or service to PHL that runs more than a couple times per day to allow connections and uses more modern equipment that is usually on time.

I wouldn’t want to see the airport expanded much beyond this, but having a couple extra flights per day would make no difference to noise or traffic levels and would be helpful to local companies and small businesses.

posted by: wendy1 on August 7, 2017  5:38pm

Does the fresh air system filter out the plane and car fumes???  How often do the filters need changing?? and how much do they cost???

posted by: WSQres on August 7, 2017  5:55pm

We’ve been hearing about expanded service for decades and it has not happened, or it has not lasted very long. Some jet service to Philadelphia and DC, or even Chicago, would be great but I won’t expect it any time soon.

posted by: NHVCyclist on August 7, 2017  7:21pm

I agree with anonymous.  I travel for business sporadically (sometimes it can be a lot in a short period) and would love to use Tweed more often.

Unfortunately the PHL flight is limited, unreliable, and…PHL airport is consistently rated poorly.

A flight to Charlotte or Minneapolis would be perfect. Same theory as PHL - connect to everywhere from there. However, a lot of New Haven area businesses work with Charlotte and Minneapolis-based businesses (life sciences, healthcare, aerospace, etc) so those are typical final destinations as well, unlike PHL. 
See flights from Bradley to Charlotte and Minneapolis - often booked well in advance, thus expensive.

Or choose a hub that is under-served by BDL because I know the state of CT tends to balk at anything that “threatens” Bradley.

posted by: JCFremont on August 8, 2017  7:47am

I believe if American Airlines or a potential new airline are not allowed to introduce new equipment at Tweed American will pull out and no financial sustainable airline will look at Tweed which will then end commercial flights. For Tweed to survive it needs regular flights to at least Chicago, DC and or Florida/Charlotte. Making connections only at Philadelphia are susceptible to cancellations or missed connections. New Haven has to work with Yale, University and Hospital, along with other area businesses and look what cities would be best for their needs. A southern hub like Charlotte might have vacationers or snow birds look at Tweed when heading to Florida or The Caribbean. What happens if Tweed closes? Private planes? I suppose, maybe with Amazon opening and Fulfillment Center in North Haven Tweed can become a hub for air freight, or maybe New Haven can open the place to motorcycle acrobats? OK neighbors like any of those ideas?

posted by: Peter99 on August 9, 2017  6:49am

Complete and total insanity. You buy a house next to an airport, and you are going to get noise. What did these people expect when they purchased their homes? There used to be consequences for poor decisions. I guess there is a taxpayer funded safety net for everyone now.