Thursday, July 19, 2001
Massport "scopes" out Hanscom Field
Plans filed for new environmental review of airport; will cover flights,
By Barbara Forster, Correspondent
On Monday, Massport delivered to the Massachusetts Office of Environmental
Affairs a list of proposed items to be studied during an upcoming
environmental planning report for Hanscom Field.
The Environmental Status and Planning Report updates the 1995 review on
issues such as aircraft operations, traffic growth and noise.
In a letter accompanying its "scoping" report, Massport asked for a 60-day
public comment period ending Sept. 28 in order to "accommodate community
requests to review the document." The Hanscom communities originally asked
Massport to hold off filing the draft scope until at least August because
summer is a difficult meeting time for volunteers involved in the process.
The proposed scope is what Massport wants to study. Massport representative
Tom Ennis pointed out that the document belongs to MEPA, the Massachusetts
Environmental Protection Act process. "We propose a scope, but MEPA gives
us one," he said.
According to the process, however, MEPA considers information and reaction
from community residents. Whatever is not in the scope isn't studied.
Environmental Status and Planning reports, which occur approximately every
five years, provide a snapshot of the facility: the trends, how things have
changed since the last review, what is projected to change as well as future
plans including near- and long-term projects and policies.
Massport proposes more than a dozen topics including airport facilities and
infrastructure, aviation activity levels, planning strategies, ground
transportation, noise, air quality, along with wetlands, wildlife, water,
cultural, and historic resources. The role of Hanscom within the context of
a regional transportation system and Massport's new environmental management
system are also on the to-be-studied list.
Although the document is still being carefully scrutinized by the
communities, Hanscom watchers have already raised one red flag --
In addition to airport activity levels between 1995 and 2000, Massport
proposes to forecast aviation activity for 2005 and 2015.
"We want a shorter time," said Richard Canale, co-chairman of the
environmental subcommittee for the Hanscom Area Towns Committee. "It's
difficult to look at impacts that far in the future. We don't know the
effects of things like high-speed rail or telecommuting."
Canale pointed out that in the 1995 environmental review, Massport looked at
aviation levels that they expected to reach in the year 2010. "We're there
now," said Canale.
This section will also include aircraft fleet mix and compare actual and
forecasted 2000 activity levels.
Massport also proposes to examine the role of Hanscom within the region's
transportation system and the agency's efforts to promote an "efficient
regional aviation system." They will include reports on rail service as
well as ground access improvements at four New England airports: Logan,
T.F. Green in Rhode Island, Manchester, N.H., and Worcester.
Data and conclusions of traffic volumes from an analysis of 15
intersections -- they did 13 in 1995, but Massport plans to add the
intersection of Old Bedford Road and Route 62 -- will be in the report, too.
Along with a report on the results of the Noise Workgroup, Masport wants to
report on current noise conditions using standard noise measurements it has
used in past years. The agency also proposes to forecast noise levels for
the forecast activity years, 2005 and 2015, using the same measurement
At least two public meetings will be held, most likely in September. MEPA
typically holds on a week or two before the comment period ends. Massport
and the communities will have another one, probably in September.
Canale explained that the environmental subcommittee, in order to be as
thorough as possible, will not file its comments with MEPA until after the
Once the public comment period ends, the state secretary of environmental
affairs will issue a certificate outlining the scope, approximately seven to
10 days later.
Massport's consultants then begin work on the draft Environmental Status and
Planning Report, which they want to file early in 2002. During that
comment/review period -- Massport expects MEPA to allow a minimum of 90 days
for this process -- Massport will have a minimum of 10 topic-based open
meetings. MEPA will also hold an open meeting approximately one to three
weeks before the end of the review period.
If this schedule holds, Massport will file the final Environmental Status
and Planning Report near the end of 2002.
Massport has also earmarked $85,000 for the Hanscom communities'
consultants. That figure is 10 percent of the estimated cost of the
Environmental Status and Planning Report.
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