Thursday, September 26, 2002
Hanscom changes speculated
By Barbara Forster / Correspondent
What Hanscom Air Field could look like in the next 15 years or more was up for discussion on Wednesday, Sept. 18 in Bedford Town Hall.
Massport representatives presented possible changes over the next three years including the possible addition of 24,000 square feet of hangar facilities for general aviation, relocating flight school activities currently near the terminal to sites closer to the runways, and separate cargo facilities.
The scenarios, however, are tied to the accuracy of the agency's predictions about increasing aviation activity - commercial, general aviation, and cargo - at the field.
Massport has four different predictions for the overall amount of future aviation activity. Also, in the years being analyzed, 2005 and 2015, each year has moderate and high growth forecasts. Aviation activity includes flight training, corporate jets, military, helicopter flights, and commercial planes.
In 2005, Massport predicts total aviation operations could range from 231,004 to 246,078. Those operations include flight training, corporate jets, military, helicopter flights and commercial planes.
For 2015, Massport is predicting a possible 272,461 to 295,828 operations.
In 2000, the total was 212,781; last year the number was 205,436.
The forecasts are in response to the Environmental Status and Planning Report that Massport is required to file every five years with MEPA, the state agency responsible for administering the Environmental Protection Act. Massport forecasts the amount of aviation activity at the field and then analyzes the effects on various environmental, historical, and cultural factors in the area.
If by 2015 commercial aviation reaches the predicted growth of more than 488,000, for example, the terminal building would need to be expanded. Massport would also have to come up with almost 800 more parking spaces for passenger use.
Currently, Hanscom has approximately 1,500 total parking spaces; 701 are at the terminal building. That figure includes parking along the perimeter of the lot. Massport recently put out a bid to restripe 640 spaces in the lot itself.
A moderate sized hotel, 100 to 200 rooms, near the intersection of Hanscom Drive and Old Bedford Road is also part of the 2015 scenario.
Differences of Opinion
Regular cargo service at Hanscom remains a dicey issue.
Richard Canale, co-chairman of the Environmental Subcommittee set up by the Hanscom Area Towns Committee, pointed out that as this is a new service and inconsistent with current activities, it should not be analyzed.
Although Massport's Tom Ennis disagreed, he noted that the state environmental agency that reviews the report asked Massport to specifically study cargo service and its environmental impacts.
"We feel that everything we looked is possible depending on what happens with the forecasts," said Ennis.
While not static, "stable" would best describe changes in the airport's physical facilities in the last five years. Jet Aviation expanded its space by approximately 34,000 square feet, Mercury Air Center added a 38,000-square-foot hangar, and a corporate hangar and one maintenance hangar were developed in the southeast portion of the terminal area.
Space inside the terminal was reconfigured to accommodate Shuttle America's needs and the parking lot was re-striped to provide a pedestrian walkway and improve the delineation of parking spaces. The Federal Aviation Administration is finishing up work on a new air traffic control towers expected to open later this year or early 2003.
Five more Massport workshops are scheduled over the next two months: ground transportation (Wednesday, Sept. 25), noise/cultural and historical resources (Saturday, Sept. 28), wetlands/wildlife/water resources (Wednesday, Oct. 3), mitigation (Saturday, Oct. 5), and air quality (Wednesday, Oct. 9).
The workshop format is the same for every meeting: Massport consultants
present information, the towns' environmental officials ask questions, and then
the public speaks.
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